Posts Tagged ‘novels’

1977 – 何金 He Jin

五月 11, 2020

He Jin

It was a beautiful time,
it was a fucking bad time.
We supposed-to-be-educated youths went off to exams
and more than half fell through.
If I had managed to fill in those two blanks,
I would have survived.
Who was Cao Xueqin?
Who was Qin Keqing?

Forward to now, Cao wrote Dream of the Red Chamber, everyone knows.
Qin Keqing, she’s one of 12 beauties
in the mystery novel,
the one most tight with Sister Feng.
In that blank space,
I drew a cow turd.
In the space for Cao Xueqin, because I was mad,
I wrote he was the third little girl
of old Cao
in our backyard.

Translated by MW, May 2020

He Jin, orig. name Jin Weixin, Muslim Hui nationality, born in the last lunar month of 1956. Published a story collection, one book of poetry and one book of essays. Poems and stories appeared in anthologies. In January 2018 he founded the poetry magazine Xiao Shi Jie (Small Verse World). He lives in Jilin city. 《新诗典》小档案:何金,原名金伟信,回族,1956年腊月出生。著有小说集《沉默的星空》、诗集《身体的宣言》、随笔集《平民天堂》。作品收入《中国口语诗年鉴》(2019年卷)、《中国回族文学通史·当代卷》。2018年1月创办《小诗界》诗刊,现居吉林市。






十月 1, 2019


today is october 1
nothing special in austria
i sit in the sun on our balcony
it’s very warm
seventy years ago
my parents were very young
they didn’t know each other
my mother was born in 1942
my father in 1940
so they were very small school kids
poor families
my mother had it a little better
in the countryside by the railway
as far as i heard
her father was alive
my father’s father didn’t come back
from the war
many many many many
people never came back
many children too
from the camps
from the ruins
but i think by 1949
my parents were both in school
they were relatively lucky
austria was relatively lucky
after the war
october 1 or october 1st
is no special day in austria
we had an election two days ago
so people talk about that
i think about seventy years ago
because of china’s national day
they have another one in taiwan
on october 10
it commemorates the revolution
in 1911 in china, in wuhan
in all of china eventually
no more emperors
but not in taiwan, not on taiwan
taiwan was under japan
no revolution
although people tried, maybe not that year
now taiwan has it’s national day
on october 10
they’ve had it this way since 1949
maybe since 1945
but since 1949 they are the only ones
with that national day
that comes from china in 1911
or maybe not exactly
did they change their national day
in 1949 right away?
maybe not
in beijing they have the greatest parade
since 1949 maybe
yes, many soldiers, tanks
school kids en masse, probably
forming words, numbers, flowers
great fireworks
i have just finished steven king’s new novel
the institute
i remember when someone interviewed ernst jandl
great austrian poet who died in 2000
it was in his apartment in vienna
he was a school teacher
anyway the reporter was rather surprised
jandl told him he had just bought a novel by stephen king
no, nothing more highbrow
in english, i think
jandl taught english and german
he was a pow in england
his unit had succeeded
in surrendering to the british
so they were lucky, those who survived
anyway jandl told the reporter
no, he didn’t need to read
highbrow stuff all the time
he wanted to write democratic poetry
not too different from erich fried
in this respect
they met in england
fried had fled from the nazis in 1938
out of vienna
he was not much older than jandl
almost the same age
after the war he was mostly in germany
jandl was in vienna
what was i talking about, stephen king
children not coming back
most of the children the book is about
the institute
most don’t come back
almost all of them don’t
over many years
in several countries
and there is this messianic thing
about this horrible institution
described in the novel
i am sorry guess i should use another word
most children murdered were jewish
in austria and so on
pointed out as jews
and messias is jewish
like everything in the bible of course
the institute is supposed to save the world
at the cost of killing children
and their parents
and this takes place now under trump
although he’s hardly mentioned
and not important
but they have existed since after the war
these institutes
in the novel
no-one ever came back
they saved the world, they said
not the children, of course
there is also another handmaid’s tale
margaret atwood
the testaments
haven’t read it yet
but i bought it
i loved the first one
the handmaid’s tale
it was a long time ago
i read it in english
when did it come out, 30 years ago?
maybe more
now they have the tv series
suddenly these two or three years
everyone talks about it
under trump and so on
although they are not that important
these strongmen
although many people are incarcerated
because of them
in many countries
including children
we are living in dystopian times
end of the world
we are lucky in austria
most of us are, relatively
it’s a very warm day
big demonstrations last friday
climate strike
many children, school children
more children than workers

so whether today
when you read this
is a special day for you
or not

have a good day


MW October 1st 2019


Photo by Johannes Fiederling





六月 1, 2017

LI Xunyang

In dieser kleinen Stadt
hab ich schon oft
an irgendwelchen Ecken
kleine Bücherverkäufer gesehen,
es geht nach Gewicht.
Aber ich war noch nie Kunde,
weil ich eben auch
ein Schriftsteller bin.
An diesem Abend
am Eingang zu einer Wohnhausanlage
unter einer Straßenlampe
ist auf einmal wieder ein Stand.
Ich schau lange Zeit,
seh doch nur den “Traum der roten Kammer”,
von dem ich schon so viele Ausgaben habe.
Gewogen und nach Haus gebracht,
dann bin ich neugierig
und wieg noch einmal mit meiner Küchenwaage.
Der Traum ist 150 Gramm dünner
als vorher bei dem jungen Verkäufer.

Übersetzt von MW im Juni 2017




五月 3, 2017

Photo by ClaireVoon / Hyperallergic


animals are we, beautiful animals
trees are we, fair as the light
ranges are we, strong as the wind
animals are we, frolicking animals
animals are we, miserable animals

MW January-Mai 2017





아름다운 동물
@마틴 윈터

우리는 동물, 아름다운 동물
우리는 나무, 아름다운 빛
우리는 산언덕, 바람처럼 건장하고
우리는 동물, 즐거운 동물
우리는 동물, 가련한 동물


(韓)郭美蘭 译



tiere sind wir, schön wie die tiere
bäume sind wir, schön wie das licht
hänge sind wir, stark wie der wind
tiere sind wir, froh wie die tiere
tiere sind wir, erbärmliche tiere

MW Januar 2017


the firm
the not-so-firm
the altogether weak
the dead
(oh! that last one is by mr. james joyce, another great american writer!)

MW April 2017




三月 31, 2015





Murong Xuecun, Yu Hua, Liu Zhenyun, Bob Dylan and Rivers of Bablyon

八月 5, 2012

I don’t think Murong Xuecun exaggerates, like one commentator suggested on the MCLC list. Yes, you could encompass many alarming, saddening, embarrassing stories in one speech in other places than China, and people do it all the time, naming names, practices, products. The difference is that in China you will be silenced more swiftly and harshly. Yes, there are exceptions.

Does Mo Yan revel in cruelty like Dan Brown? Does Yu Hua make better use of the cruel parts in his novels? Ok, I’m an interested party, I can’t really say. Would be interesting to analyze in detail. Mo Yan’s novels are great works, at least those I have read, he has written a lot. Deep, cathartic, even accusing use of cruel events and structures. I love Yu Hua’s tone. And I associate Liu Zhenyun in Remember 1942, and Murong Xuecun’s Sky and Autumn speech.

We had Jeremiah in church today, along with that story where a guy goes abroad and gives his gold and silver to his servants. The ones that receive more trade with it, and when their lord comes back, they can give him double. The one who received very little buries it, and when the lord comes back, he digs it out and says, I know you are a harsh governor and reap where you haven’t sown, so I was afraid to lose what you gave me, and kept it double safe. His colleagues get to join the big party, and are rewarded with great posts. He is cast out into the darkness, which is filled with howling and chattering teeth. It’s a horrible story. Yes, it’s a parable, and if you have very little reason for faith, you should still risk it and try to make more, because if you bury it deep in your heart you might lose the little trust you had and received and be cast out into the darkness. But if you are the one who has reason to be afraid, how can you trust your lords? The ones who have more and get more have it easy. Even if they lose everything, they are often rewarded – those powerful managers and functionaries. And if there are enough of those who are cast out, and they get organized, maybe some bishops or other lords might dangle from lamp posts. A Hussite reading, said my wife. Yeah, maybe. No shortage of horrible stories in Chinese literature, like in the Bible.

Jeremiah is even worse, it’s a much bigger story, infinitely more horrible. And there is a detail, not in the Jeremiah parts used in church today, but in the songs in exile. By the rivers of Babylon, where we sat down, where we wept when we remembered Zion. And in the end the singer wishes, or the singers wish they will one day brutally kill the children of the oppressors. That’s the detail in Murong Xuecun’s speech I was thinking about.

The calling of Jeremiah, where he says he’s too young, and God says he has to go and obey, and open his mouth, and God will put His words into his mouth, and he will be set above nations and kingdoms, so he can pluck out and demolish, ruin and destroy, as well as plant and build. The preacher said she thought of parting and setting off to other posts, and how the Marschallin in Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s and Richard Strauss’ Rosenkavalier sings of what she will have to give up. What a horrible comparison! There is nothing light in Jeremiah. There are no waltzes. Ok, Rivers of Babylon, yes. But with Jeremiah, if you have to mention Austrian writers, Franz Werfel would be much more apt. Werfel was Jewish and used Jeremiah, a lot. Ok, she did mention, much too briefly how nobody would heed Jeremiah, and that it’s actually the most terrible story.

Anyway, when I heard Jeremiah, I thought of Bob Dylan. Masters of War. “How much do I know, to talk out of turn? You might say that I’m young; you might say I’m unlearned. But there is one thing I know, though I’m younger than you, it’s that Jesus would never forgive what you do. […] And I’ll watch while you’re lowered onto your deathbed, and I’ll stand on your grave and make sure that you’re dead.” I don’t know if Dylan thought of Nixon and Kissinger explicitly, when he wrote this song. America’s Vietnam War was raging, and I think the song came out when Nixon and Kissinger where in power. Anyway, there is that Monty Python song about Kissinger. Very explicit. Dylan and Monty Python would not be able to sing these songs in China on stage today, to say nothing about what Chinese artists can do. No, Murong Xuecun doesn’t exaggerate.

x and y

x was cruel

butt is sore

y was able

and suave.

both loved culture

both destroyed

hundred million

butts are cold

MW         March 2007

Yes, I thought of Mao and Nixon, and their sidekicks. But x and y could stand for many people, and could be mentioned anywhere, at least today. Almost anywhere, probably. Anyway, it’s about smoking, you know. Littering. OK, enough for today.

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