Posts Tagged ‘Japan’


八月 7, 2018

Yi Xiaoqian

der fahrer auf unserer japanreise
ist ein über siebzigjähriger
alter japaner
jedesmal wenn ich einsteig
grinst er und zwickt mich
am doppelkinn
jiang tao unser reiseleiter erklärt mir
alte japaner
sind alle lustmolche
wahrscheinlich weckst du in ihm
etwas von seine jugend
aber nicht so schlimm
lass ihn bisschen zwicken
dann ist er zufrieden
und er fährt uns alle
noch ein bisschen sicherer

Übersetzt von MW im August 2018



八月 6, 2018

Jianghu Hai

Across the road from Tokyo Prince Hotel
in a train station basement
I ate a pasta I had never tasted
outside of my family’s home Matoushan
deep in China.
The flour is ground, dried in the sun,
beaten into a dough, pressed into strings,
these are dried again.
To the sound of the big village drums,
the pasta is born in a fine-tuned process.
It’s very resilient, every bite fills your mouth
with the scent of the grain.
I left home when I was 14,
had all sorts of pasta, sweet sour spicy,
strong kinds of taste, made very fast,
so the scent of my hometown
went very far away in the distance.
Never thought I would find it at this moment in Tokyo.
Above there are trains arriving and leaving,
producing a rhythm of deep and high notes
very much like the drums
of Matoushan.

Translated by MW, August 2018


五月 4, 2018

Yi Sha
DREAM 1271

sleep is being buried alive
waking up is being dug out again
dream is the world
when you open your eyes
in the dirt

April 2018
Tr. MW, May 2018


Yi Sha
DREAM 1274

The Poemlife BBS is still active,
someone has posted
my numbers are fake.
In my NPC I never presented
900 people or 2500 poems.

I’m having serious self-doubts,
even thinking,
“If he says it, goddamn, it must be true.”

April 2018
Tr. MW, May 2018

Yi Sha
DREAM 1276

NPC poets visit Japan
Jiang Tao shoots
one adult movie per person
as soon as they know
these movies won’t enter China
it’s no big deal

April 2018
Tr. MW, May 2018


Yi Sha
DREAM 1277

I am a Barça manager,
but not the general manager.
The general manager wants to buy
two Suárez clones.
I strongly object,
thinking he doesn’t know about football.

April 2018
Tr. MW, May 2018

Yi Sha
DREAM 1279

A strange girl,
doesn’t exist in reality,
uses the phone in a kiosk
(doesn’t exist anymore)
to call her parents.
Her happy laugh makes you smile.
Your relationship with her
is revealed at the end of the dream.

April 2018
Tr. MW, May 2018


Yi Sha
DREAM 1280

In a crowd
I hold Wang Youwei by the arm,
he can hardly stand
after drinking.
I turn around,
my bag has been snatched,
everything I have on this trip
was in there.
What do I do now?

I think of returning home
and I’m not afraid anymore.
My home with my mother

April 2018
Tr. MW, May 2018


Yi Sha
DREAM 1282

the subconscious
is making wine

April 2018
Tr. MW, May 2018



十二月 12, 2017


die japaner sind gekommen
auf ihrem kriegsschiff
die japaner sind weggefahren
auf ihrem kriegsschiff
aber einen hund
haben sie hier gelassen
der hund war herumgelaufen
vor verschiedenen imbisständen
hatte seine pfoten gefaltet
und wie ein mensch um fressen gebettelt
dann ist er zum hafen gerannt
um auf die japaner zu warten
die japaner sind nicht zurückgekommen
mein patenopa
hat den hund aufgenommen
viele jahre später
während einer politischen kampagne
hat ihn jemand angezeigt
und der hund war der beweis
für seinen landesverrat

18. September 2017
Übersetzt von MW im Dezember 2017


十月 6, 2017

Photo by Juliane Adler


gestern war mondfeiertag,
mondfeiertag war heuer recht spät.
15.8. im mondkalender.
oft ist es ende september,
paar tage vorm nationalfeiertag.
nationalfeiertag in der volksrepublik,
staatsgründungstag 1. oktober,
proklamiert 1949
vom tor des himmlischen friedens.
also nicht in taiwan,
dort haben sie am 10.10.
mondfest ist nahe bei den paraden.
rührt euch!
alle augen nach vorn
auf das gold!
das ist ein gedicht von yi sha.
wàng qián kàn,
alle augen nach vorn auf das geld.
das war die parole
seit den 80er jahren.
yi sha schreibt in xi’an.
xi’an hat früher chang’an geheißen,
es war sehr lange hauptstadt,
viel länger als peking.
also sehr viele mondfeiertage.
vielleicht auch paraden?
jedenfalls hauptstadtparaden
vor 1000 jahren
vielleicht vor 1300 jahren
erste millionenstadt auf der erde
vielleicht sogar größer als konstantinopel
aber noch ohne panzer.
also kein platz des himmlischen friedens.
keine demonstrationen von millionen.
yi sha hat in peking studiert,
ende 1989
ist er nach xi’an zurückgekommen.
mondfest hat nichts mit paraden zu tun.
mondfest ist für die familie.
man steigt auf eine höhe,
bringt essen und trinken,
alle sehen den mond.
man denkt auch an die, die nicht dabei sind
die dazugehören
und vielleicht den mond sehen können.
mondfest ist überall
in vietnam und in japan
in korea, norden und süden,
in malaysia, auf den ryukyu-inseln,
auch auf hawaii.
ich glaub eher nicht bei den tibetern,
aber doch bei mongolen
obwohl die mondkuchen
oder das allgemeine verschenken
von diesen kuchen mit zetteln drinnen
angeblich gegen mongolen gewirkt hat.
mondkuchen gibts in vietnam und korea,
auf okinawa und den ryukyu-inseln.
in japan sonst gibt es sowas wie knödel.
wir haben zwetschgenknödel gegessen.
zwetschgenknödel aus topfenteig
von meiner mutter.
also ohne mondkuchen
aber mit großeltern und zwetschgenknödeln.
wir haben auch an andere gedacht,
die anderen großeltern
die vielen freunde
alle denen mondfest vielleicht etwas sagt.
alles gute an alle!
auch an nitram retniw!
meine tochter glaubt das muss eine frau sein
sehr verdächtig
vielleicht eine verhüllte
das ist in österreich jetzt verboten
der mond hat sich gestern nicht dran gehalten
bitte lest nitram retniw von hinten
er wünscht euch alles gute!

MW 5. Oktober 2017

DREAM #1091 – Yi Sha 伊沙《梦(1091)》

七月 6, 2017

Yi Sha
DREAM 1091

three dreams in one night
one after the other
three blossoms opened
on the same topic:

I dream of two female journalists
from Chinese Business View
they used to interview me all the time
but then I beat up a male reporter
because he stuffed sweet crumbs into my mouth
when I didn’t want it

I dream of a real
Japanese devil
seems very friendly
but there’s no need for mobilization
I want him dead
though those war films haven’t fooled me
I know killing him won’t be easy
I am preparing a saw

I dream of my roommates
at college
we move into a new place together
it’s an apartment with bathroom
I am taking a pee
someone kicks me from behind
I turn around and kick him
to the ground
almost killing him

July 2017
Tr. MW, July 2017











九月 4, 2016


Zhu Jian

cherry blossoms
from Tokyo
like blood
falling on

Tr. MW, Sept. 2016


Zhu Jian

aus tokio
wie blut
in nanjing

Übersetzt von MW im Sept. 2016









내려 앉았다

(美) 文超塵 譯



二月 24, 2016

Pan Miaobin

Pan Miaobin

Night of continuous rain.
Rain digging a well
in winter quite a few years ago.
Many years after,
temple bells of Nagoya in whirling snow
dig up the rain in my ears from the well
from that winter.

Then cherry trees bloom.
Then far away in China
fallen leaves wake up in front of a temple.

Tr. MW, February 2016

nagoya bells


十一月 9, 2015

Zhu Jian Nanjing

Zhu Jian

On the walls,
densely written all over,
thousands and thousands.
The names of the dead.

I took one look,
just one look.
Then I had to get out.
Could not turn my head.

I had seen
the name of a friend.
Of course I knew,
it was only the name.

I was almost sure:
Just one more look
I would have seen
my name on the wall.

Tr. MW, 2015

Zhu Jian

an den wänden
dicht an dicht
tausende namen
der ermordeten

ich sah einmal hin
warf nur einen blick
dann musste ich raus
ohne den kopf zu wenden

ich hatte einen namen gesehen
den namen eines freundes
natürlich wusste ich
es war nur der name

ich war fast sicher
mit dem nächsten blick
hätte ich meinen
namen gesehen

Übersetzt von MW am 31. Dez. 2013








八月 17, 2015
Picture by Thomas Wong

Picture by Thomas Wong


even after tian’anmen
tian’anmen wasn’t always oppressive
you could fly a kite
then came the tanks
in 2009
for the 50th anniversary
of the liberation
this year they celebrate into september
beating the japanese
at least getting rid of them
I’m sure there will be
perfect command
of dancing children
no kites and no pigeons
at least for a while

MW August 2015




二月 11, 2014



der duft der blueten
erinnert an omi
es ist lange her
gar nicht so lang
sie kann bald in den garten
gut eingepackt
anfang februar kommen die blueten
von weitem wie die baeume in taiwan
die baeume in japan
rosa blueten, manchmal weisse
am donaukanal ist auch ein strauch
in zwei tagen ist valentin

MW Februar 2014


十月 9, 2013


Yi Sha



reden wir nicht über die sexuelle

befriedigung die ich davon hatte

(sonst heisst es ich propagiere die unzucht)

nur was ich künstlerisch

daraus erkannte

scheinbar heimlich gefilmt

synchron mit der zeit

ungeschnitten fühlt es sich an

als habe man alle männlichen weiblichen

darsteller frisch von der strasse gefangen

das gefühl der nähe zu diesen laien

das selbstvergessene hineinsteigern

rein auf den sex konzentriert

schmierig, geschmacklos, hässlich, gemein

nichts menschliches ist ihnen fremd

diese perverse leidenschaft

hat sicher im stillen

meine verse beeinflusst

meine einstellung beim schreiben

und zwar sehr früh


Übersetzt von MW im Oktober 2013





Ai Weiwei in Canada, … almost

八月 12, 2013

The Globe and Mail article quoted by Paul Manfredi is well informed and sympathetic. But it doesn’t spell out any concrete reasons for Ai Weiwei’s singular status. Ai Weiwei’s status, even after his imprisonment, is that of a “princeling”. It seems to be easier to get rid of Bo Xilai. Bo’s father was one of the “eight immortals” of the Communist Party. Ai Weiwei’s father Ai Qing was a persecuted Communist writer, persecuted under Communist rule since the 1940s. Persecuted before, that’s where he got his name. Most of his colleagues denounced each other. Among famous writers, few seem to have been as obstinate as Ai Qing. He was banished to an army town in Xinjiang, a huge city today. There he cleaned toilets, together with little Weiwei. But after Deng Xiaoping came to power in 1978, Ai Qing became an icon. Unlike Bo Xilai and his henchmen, Ai Weiwei did not build labor camps and organ-harvested Falungong-followers. Before he was arrested, Global Times had published many sympathetic articles about his civil rights activism. And even after his abduction and imprisonment at an unknown location, Ai Weiwei gets to keep his comparatively huge house and grounds and most of his fortune. If he was persecuted too much, the main reason for Ai Weiwei’s status would come out too clearly: It would be awkward to discuss his father’s fate in detail. Cultural policy since the 1940s is no secret to anybody in and around the arts in China. But still. Maybe it would come out too clearly how control over art and literature and everything connected to culture was deemed even more important than in other Socialist countries. How idealism had been betrayed again and again, most effectively with broad domestic and international participation in economic growth after 1989. Ai Weiwei is very different from his father Ai Qing in many aspects, as well from his older brother Ai Xuan, who is also a well-known artist in China. But like his father, Ai Weiwei remains an icon of idealism. It would be awkward and politically dangerous to challenge such icons too much and thus revive ideals in a big way.

The Globe and Mail article quoted by Paul Manfredi gives convincing evidence of Ai Weiwei’s civil disobedience and civil rights engagement. Another good recent piece on Ai Weiwei, his imprisonment in 2011 and comparable phenomena elsewhere around the world is a TED-talk by An Xiao Mina.

Ai Weiwei wrote an indignant indictment of the US behaviour in the Snowden case in The Guardian back in June. That was before the plane carrying Bolivia’s president was refused airspace by France, Spain and Italy on US orders on July 3.

China Avantgarde: Paul Manfredi's occasional notes on Chinese art and literature


I have just discovered, courtesy of the Real Clear Arts, that Ai Weiwei will take questions from attendees of his Ontario exhibition “According to What?” in online chat format.

This exhibition began in 2009 in Mori, Japan. It was reprised this year, starting at the Hirshhorn museum, moving to Indianapolis, stopping now in Ontario en route to Miami and finally Brooklyn.

One wonders how the curators plan to approach this chat experience. Will they be moderating, perhaps even reviewing questions in advance? If so, will they be editing out overtly political content? If not, could this turn into a no-holds-barred discussion of Chinese authoritarianism, political corruption, and all other manner of potentially seditious talk? Obviously, Ai may choose not to answer if he feels line of questioning veering into unsafe territory. But from what we’ve seen of Ai already, self preservation is not the highest…

View original post 202 more words


八月 6, 2013
Yang Jinsong and Fans

Yang Jinsong and Fans









英、德文/ 維馬丁

中譯/ 彤雅立、維馬丁



shine and float in white and pink

carried forth into the day

all among the loony people

certainly the trees are blooming

growing, falling, ripening

standing, breathing in the wind

MW April 2011


weiss und rosa leuchtend schweben

fortgetragen in die tage

unter allen irren menschen

blühen zweifellos die bäume

wachsen, fallen, reifen, stehen

atmen, öffnen sich im wind

MW April 2011





























林維甫 譯



there is nothing to describe

they are all construction workers

tearing down and building up

there is nothing to describe

they are children full of songs

european marching tunes

shouting, waving up and down

there is nothing to describe

they are dancing autumn leaves

they are soaring flocks of birds

there is early heat this year

in the city’s radiators

there is nothing to describe

they are selling groceries

and the european car

all decked out in darken’d windows

tramples little cabbage leaves

they are sold illegally

there is nothing to describe

they are ancient city moats

everybody keeping fit

they are trying to get by

they are standing on the street

they are selling vcd

there is nothing to describe

there is everything to buy

this is beijing, after all

MW 2004




























林維甫 譯



there is nothing to describe

we are ordinary people

building up and tearing down

there is nothing to describe

there is nothing to explain

we are ordinary people

building up and tearing down

there is nothing to explain

there is nothing to remember

we are ordinary people

building up and tearing down

there is nothing to remember

there is nothing to expect

we are ordinary people

building up and tearing down

there is nothing to expect

there is nothing to regret

we are ordinary people

building up and tearing down

there is nothing to regret

there is nothing to forget

we are ordinary people

building up and tearing down

there is nothing to forget

MW August 2007

Picture by Sara Bernal

Picture by Sara Bernal




















林維甫 譯



chairman, he is not a bird
chairman, he is not a plane

what is chairman all about?
chairman makes a chair for you
chairman, he makes all the legs
chairman, he makes all the arms
chairman, he makes every back
chairman, he makes all the chairs
don’t tell me you didn’t know

what is chairlady about?
chairlady will make them too
chairlady makes all the legs
chairlady makes all the arms
chairlady makes every back
chairlady makes all the chairs
don’t tell me you didn’t know

MW March 2008




















林維甫 譯


i am a rock next time around
what will you be in your next life?
what will you be when you are dead?
the question is not accurate
there is no world next time around
when we are tired, it is here
and in the morning, god be willing
i’m paper then next time around

next time around i am a child
what will you be in your next life?
what will you be when you are dead?
the question is not accurate
there is no world next time around
it is with us, when we are there
and in the morning, god be willing
my child is here this time around

MW         August 2007


Mo Yan 莫言 and Murakami Haruki 村上春樹 (二)

十月 22, 2012

I want to thank Charles Laughlin for his recent posts on the MCLC list and on Facebook. His conclusion included these words: “Mo Yan’s critics are expecting the same of him that Mao Zedong would have: the political subservience of writers and their responsibility to serve as the political conscience of the nation”. Now I have written another blog post about this. 罗老师多谢!
Mo Yan’s 莫言 situation is ironic, as Charles Laughlin says. But serving “as the political conscience of the nation” is not the same as “political subservience”. It is rather the opposite. As we know, Murakami Haruki 村上春树 and his colleagues can be “the political conscience” of Japan, making “politically progressive gestures”, but Chinese writers in China, because of “political subservience” cannot be “the political conscience of the nation”, except obliquely in their fiction, poetry etc. Or in the first few days after they win a Nobel.

Along with Charles and many other people I am very glad that after Mo Yan was announced as a Nobel winner, he finally felt up to, or forced to open his mouth as a public intellectual, in contrast to the meaning of his pen name. Now he can be a public figure, like Murakami in Japan, not just an ambivalent functionary and a reclusive writer. Or can he? Is he going to say anything more on China-Japan relations or political prisoners? Is he going to mention Liu Xiaobo 刘晓波 in Stockholm? He will certainly be asked about other Chinese Nobel winners. That’s the nature of this particular prize, whether you like it or not.

Murakami and his colleagues can “serve” as public intellectuals, when their conscience tells them to do something additional to their writing. The irony is that under CCP 中国共产党 rule, there are no public intellectuals in China. There are occasional trouble-makers and commentators, like Ai Weiwei 艾未未 and Murong Xuecun 慕容雪村, Yu Hua 余华 and Wang Shuo 王朔. But can any of them speak their mind in public at length about Sino-Japanese relations or other sensitive topics? Apart from these writers and artists, there are professors like Cui Weiping 崔卫平, who issued the call to turn back to reason in Sino-Japanese relations, which got censored on Sina Weibo 新浪微波. She has often been prevented from traveling abroad. And there are some civil rights lawyers, who sometimes disappear.

Murakami and his colleagues can “serve as the political conscience” of Japanese society in and out of their books. Mo Yan has to be very circumspect with his topics. The Garlic Ballads was censored and supressed for a while. Mao’s “Talks” 讲话 at the “Yan’an Forum” 延安文艺座谈会 helped to make sure writers and artists could not speak their conscience. Vague documents like this have played an important role as instruments of obedience inforcement in one-party societies, as Anne Sytske Keijser and Maghiel van Crevel have shown in a recent article in “De Groene Amsterdammer” (10/17/2012). Mo Yan knows about this dilemma. His comments after he won the Nobel, and even some comments before, suggest he cannot find hand-copying and displaying Chairman quotes quite as harmless as Charles. That would be the difference between working with political realities in China and teaching about them in the US. The conditions of these political realities are still determined by largely the same factors as decades ago. As Keijser and Van Crevel put it, Mao’s “Talks” and other directives are up on the shelf, routinely mentioned in speeches by present leaders, and ready to be enforced again as needed. Yes, Mo Yan and his colleagues fought successfully for enough freedom to write great literature. Isn’t that enough? Not outside the realm of fiction, unfortunately. The cultural achievements of the 1980s couldn’t prevent the 1989 crackdown and everything that stays vague and threatening in theory and practice today.

Mo Yan writes “stupendous” novels, as Charles Laughlin says. Yes, he does. His development as a writer was influenced by the threat of starvation, the brutality in the name of revolution, and by the ideology. Yes, including the Yan’an “Talks”, as Charles shows. Now, Charles says, “China’s writers are receiving much-deserved international recognition simply because they are devoting their souls wholly to literary art.” Yes, they do. Liao Yiwu’s 廖亦武 speech in Frankfurt was in Sichuan dialect 四川方言. The text is available on the Internet. Try to find a video not dubbed into German. The German translation was fine, it just wasn’t dialect or even colloquial German. And it didn’t sound half as humble as Liao himself did. Politics made him into the writer, musician, poet and activist he is now. And his temper, his foolhardiness, as he readily admits. Not a hero, as Jonathan Stalling suggested. The German Book Trade’s Peace Prize has often been awarded to writers such as Orhan Pamuk.

The irony is that in theory, as taught by Charles, “Mao Zedong would have” reminded writers of their “responsibility to serve as the political conscience of the nation.” In practice, he silenced them. Virtually all, in time. So there would be no political conscience. That’s what Orwell’s Nineteen-Eighty-Four is about. Words like “Ministry of Truth” 真理部 are very well-known in China. 1984 is a vision of the closed world of a one-party state. Some moments of life in other societies can feel just as eerie, like a progressive college professor who turns into a cult leader, as in Murakami’s 1Q84, or, even more so, the perfectly cultured killer with secret roots in Korea. But on the whole, Japan in the 1980’s, evocatively and masterfully portrayed, is not ironic enough for connecting to Orwell’s 1984. I guess Taiwan under martial law 台灣戒嚴, in 1984, could have just made it.

Hu Ping 胡平, elected as independent candidate in Beijing’s Haidian district towards the end of the brief Beijing Spring over 30 years ago, recently circulated an excerpt from Mo’s “Life and Death Are Wearing me Out” (Shengsi pilao 生死疲勞). The novel was already well-known before the Nobel. A land owner who had his head blown off in the land reform in 1950 is born again as a farm animal several times, most famously as a donkey. In this excerpt, the donkey/landlord laments his unreasonable and unnecessarily bloody execution, until the guy who shot him tells him he acted with expressive backing from local and provincial authorities, to make sure the revolution was irreversible. So was it “a matter of historical necessity”? I don’t know what Hu Ping meant by circulating the email that somehow ended up forwarded in my inbox, because I don’t follow Chinese exile communications very closely. To me, the excerpt sounds just as absurd, evocative, tragic and yes, “stupendous”, as Mo Yan’s novels usually do. And thus rather close to Orwell’s 1984, or Wang Xiaobo’s 王小波 2015, in a way. I don’t think most readers would think that the author wants to commend, recommend or even excuse such acts of brutality.

There is another irony. Gao Xingjian 高行健 was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 2000 even though, or maybe because, he did not and does not make himself available for political comments. Gao emigrated to France in the late 1980s and rescinded his Party membership in 1989, and it doesn’t seem he wants to come to terms with the powers that be in China in his lifetime. But on the whole, Gao has made about as many explicit political comments in the last 20 years as Yang Mu 楊木.
Chinese writing in 2012 is very complex. At least there is “much-deserved international recognition”, finally. Yu Hua’s essays “China In 10 Words” 《十個詞彙里的中國》 were serialized in the New York Times 紐約時報, among other international papers. And now Yang Mu, Mo Yan and Liao Yiwu appear together in headlines, also in the New York Times. What more could we wish for?

Mo Yan and Murakami

十月 16, 2012

I like both Mo Yan’s 莫言 and Murakami Haruki’s 村上春樹 novels. But 1Q84 left me disappointed, although it’s brilliantly written. Great evocation of ordinary lives and neighborhoods. But not very much connection to Orwell. No prison. The two lovers escape at a terrible price. Maybe I sort of hoped neither Mo Yan nor Murakami would get it. Although I think they’re both great writers. Murakami deserves great credit for his political candor, both in some of his novels and otherwise. He recently spoke out for a return to reason in Chinese-Japanese relations. After Mo Yan got the Nobel, he also said something in this direction. Mo Yan has never made political comments before. Now he can do it. So maybe it is a good thing that he got the prize.
Making handwritten copies of the speech that was the reference point for decades of repression in literature is an absurd, shameful act.
On the other hand, Mo Yan’s novels could be called an important continuation of the magical realism tradition. The realism of The Garlic Ballads clearly shows the helplessness of peasants and ordinary people in the 1980s. The Republic of Wine is a fantastically powerful indictment of official corruption. Some other novels have broader historic scope. The stories take place in many different periods, under CCP rule as well as before and even in the 19th century. But they are all fantastic tales of familiar people in villages and small towns. Ma Lan’s 馬蘭 How We Killed a Glove 我們如何殺一隻手套 employs different techniques, but when you are in the middle of reading you also realize the details refer to massacres and tragedies that seem very fantastic in hindsight but which are actually quite familiar still for many people even now. So I have great respect for Mo Yan 莫言 and Tie Ning 鐵凝, even though they chair the Chinese Writer’s Association. They don’t even have Party members in their stories, as far as I recall. There are no chairmen or even higher functionaries at all in recent Chinese literature. There are no vindications of official policy, in contrast to the 1950s and 1960s. As to the Yan’an Talks or Yan’an Forum 延安文藝座談會, it was not really a discussion with different voices being respected. Maghiel van Crevel 克雷 has put the whole context together in his book on Duo Duo 多多 in 1995, on the basis of Bonnie McDougall etc. The Chairman had remarkable rhetoric skill, but it can’t be separated from the context of writers disappearing, getting imprisoned and killed, not to speak of other people, right then and there in 1942, on the grounds of what Mao was saying. It’s not the kind of literary theory you can discuss on its own. Socialist realism with its many facets and developments in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, GDR etc. is certainly worth a great deal of attention and discussion, but it is always very directly connected with politics. In some countries, like the former Soviet Union and China, this connection was compounded by dictators considered as intellectuals. Marxism, Socialism and Communism were taboo in the US for a long time. This kind of repression is still quite visible in the propaganda against Obama, who isn’t really leftist at all. And because of this, literary and social theory have a very strong and special status in US academia. Infatuation with China and/or what was perceived as its politics is an additional factor, also in other countries. When I look at the social and political context of literature in China, I prefer Yu Hua 余華 to Mo Yan. But it’s not that simple. Mo Yan is a soldier, joining the PLA was the only way for him to become a writer. He has done and is doing what is possible in his position, and deserves respect.

March 20: danube, cherries, liu xiaobo

三月 21, 2012

6 on the beach near the northern tip of the island in the danube at vienna, march 20, 2012


the danube flows
vienna starts
somewhere downstream.
the island goes
a couple miles
or maybe four.
they have an ice-cream stand today
with buttermilk and radio.

i came to see the cherry trees.
they’re fast asleep.
they need another month or so.
in april we may still have snow.
the cherry trees are from japan.
i went there 19 years ago.
it was before i knew my wife.
i went by boat.
it took two days.
and almost everyone was sick
except the crew.
a boat from china to japan
in january, in ’93.
the plum trees bloomed among the snow.
in february, when i was there.

it’s nice and warm.
the danube flows.
they had an earthquake in japan
a year ago, a little more.
the biggest one they ever had
or maybe not. but very big
with 20.000 people dead
and nuclear power plants kaput.
and still the trees bloomed like before.

it’s nice and warm.
the danube flows.
a month ago the cherry trees
and rhododendrons were in bloom
in taiwan, just a month ago.
it was quite warm. we even swam
in mountain streams.
and austria had lots of snow.

today they read for liu xiaobo
they have a day for poetry
when spring begins, from the un
the 18th was for prisoners
in china and america.
for prisoners of politcs.
they have a day for everyone.

the danube flows.
i brought my son to therapy.
he goes to school. there’s progress now.
he speaks much more.
our daughter doesn’t read a lot
but on the whole we’re doing fine.

the danube flows.
this city is a crying shame.
they say it’s very beautiful.
a neonazi gets a third,
a little less.
a rightist. just like hungary.
a little bit more affluent.

the danube flows.

MW    March 20, 2012

This one’s for all the bloggers out there

Susan Sontag: Pay attention to the world

Elfriede Jelinek

政治與戲劇     Vaclav Havel/文  董恆秀/譯

March 21, Kardinal Nagl Square, U3 subway, Vienna. Many bees in the tree.


三月 12, 2012

Just read a post by a guy called Doug 陀愚。It begins with a child’s drawing from preschool, and ends with the words 日本は絶対復しますので、それまで頑張りましょう。Nihon wa zettai fukushimasu no de, sore made ganbari mashoo. I don’t know if everything can or should be like it was before after such a big catastrophe. I do have great respect for the spirit Doug talks about. Last year in spring I wrote two poems that were inspired or influenced by the Japan 東北 Toohoku earthquake. I am going to put the second one first here. It was translated recently by a Taiwanese friend, and we both read it in public at a bookstore in Taipei on Febr. 26th.







shine and float in white and pink
carried forth into the day
all among the loony people
certainly the trees are blooming
growing, falling, ripening
standing, breathing in the wind

MW April 2011


weiss und rosa leuchtend schweben
fortgetragen in die tage
unter allen irren menschen
bluehen zweifellos die baeume
wachsen, fallen, reifen, stehen
atmen, oeffnen sich im wind

MW April 2011

Photo by Ronnie Niedermeyer

8 syllables in every line, five trochaic lines, first syllable of every line stressed, then the third syllable, and so on. This is how the German version works, with an additional shorter seven-syllable verse that ends with a stressed syllable, so it’s six lines in all. And in the English version most lines only have seven syllables, except the two in the middle: “all among the loony people/ certainly the trees are blooming”.

Zhan Bing 詹冰(綠血球 Taipei: 笠, 1965), from

hold it

(quakes, tsunamis, nuclear threats …)

the days of the blossoms
the yellow the white
the shoots and the air
and the birds and the bees
the flies and the beetles
the earth and the trembling
the cars that come floating
the buildings come tumbling
the life that sprouts

MW March 2011


(fuer japan, yunnan, burma …)

die tage die blueten
die spitzen die gruenen
die weissen die gelben
die bienen die fliegen
die wogen die steigen
die wagen die treiben
die erde die bebt und
das leben das keimt

MW Maerz 2011


三月 30, 2011


(fuer japan, yunnan, burma …)

die tage die blueten
die spitzen die gruenen
die weissen die gelben
die bienen die fliegen
die wogen die steigen
die wagen die treiben
die erde die bebt und
das leben das keimt

MW Maerz 2011

hold it

(quakes, tsunamis, nuclear threats …)

the days of the blossoms
the yellow the white
the shoots and the air
and the birds and the bees
the flies and the beetles
the earth and the trembling
the cars that come floating
the buildings come tumbling
the life that sprouts

MW March 2011

Liu Xiaobo worldwide reading

三月 23, 2011

The world-wide reading on March 20 was a big success. In Leipzig, as far as I heard. In Vienna, it was interesting. Instructive. Great experts. Reporters Without Borders. Amnesty International. Writers in Prison, with Helmuth Niederle from the Austrian PEN. Professors from the East Asia departments of Vienna and Bratislava. Poetry. Protesters in China, in prison. Women, peasants, workers. In spirit. In between. Over 90 cities in 33 countries on six continents. At least. Gerhard Ruiss and Bei Ling read in Leipzig. At the book fair.

Herta Müller’s speech on March 20 in Berlin was published in the FAZ on March 26. Very good speech. She has read the biography. Maybe a little too fast. The labour camp didn’t come immediately after the first prison term. He wrote the confession in prison at the end of 1990 and went free in January 1991. Everything else is correct. The episode with his father, who wanted him to give in. And the labour camp. She does take a side, very emphatically. The last sentence is the most important one. “More and more supporters of Charter 08 are disappearing in jail.” Liu Xianbin was sentenced to 10 years a few days ago. Altogether he has been sentenced for more than 25 years since 1989. His most serious crime seems to have been one of the founders of an opposition party at the end of the 1990s.  Liu Xianbin’s wife Chen Mingxian chronicles her life in the last 20 years in this account:

There is also a good piece in the NY Times by Geng He, wife of the human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng:

Teng Biao has disappeared, Ran Yunfei has been detained for a while, and now Liu Xianbin has been sentenced to 10 years, to name but a few. The situation is very clear. No progress, just the opposite.

MuseumsQuartier Wien, Raum D / quartier21 - Photo by Pernille Koldbech Fich

There will be a reading with Bei Ling, poet and publisher, in Vienna at the same location on April 12.

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