Posts Tagged ‘Tainan’


五月 22, 2014

bronze statue

Hung Hung

all those bronze statues
are busy at night
patrolling the streets
lest people get drunk and say the wrong thing or kiss in the alleys
or play mahjong at home
statues will check at the newspaper press
is there a piece on the chief like last year?
is there a space for respect at the top?
has someone scribbled in the blank spot?

bronze statues are busy
they are scared of too many things
scared stamps could bear other portraits
scared streets and squares, schools, libraries
would all change their names
no more school kids saluting
no more chatting with sparrows
scared that one day
there’d be a rope
to pull them down

“mama, why is the statue green in the face?”
“no finger-pointing, your fingers fall off!”
“mama, the statue hides for a smoke at the fire brigade!”
“he just takes a break, he got burned in the sun every day.”

those statues have long forgotten the killings
of another generation
forgotten how they are still being used
they only remember the heat of the forge
it was hard to bear
and once you cool down, then come the years
standing empty and cold

Written on the eve of Febr. 28th, 2014,
67 years after the Febr. 28th, 1947 massacre.
Tr. MW, May 2014







I was very astonished when I first saw the picture. It does look like violence, the statue is smeared red. The poem is a revelation. Why would people have something against Sun Yat-sen? Nice guy, compared to what came later. Late retribution, for the killing of Thng Tek-Chiong, governor of Tainan in 1947, one of the first dead in the February 28 massacre? Sun Yat-sen is rather far from home in Tainan, far from his home base. I remember that small park near the train station in Taipei, where Sun Yat-sen lived when he visited Taiwan, it was a Japanese hotel back then. Small garden, very peaceful. A little forlorn and frail among the hustle and bustle around Taipei train station. Why would anyone be angry at a statue of Sun Yat-sen? In 2011 and early 2012, there were many conferences around the world in memory of the 1911 辛亥革命. People talked about many interesting things, but something like this? Without this poem, I would never have thought people would think that way about these statues. Not that much. So many killings back then, so much White Terror in decades, and no retribution. And the KMT still in power. There is repressed violence in people’s hearts, and everybody can count there lucky stars if they take it out only on statues.

Taiwan is a very peaceful and safe place, all in all. One-party dictatorship does create a sense of security for some, at least in retrospect. The world gets more complicated in those new-fangled pluralist societies. So there are people who blame the subway knife attack of a deranged student on May 21 on the student-led protests in March and early April this year. In Austria, the shameless tabloid that is much bigger than Murdoch and Berlusconi in their countries, still says things like all demonstrations and protest are leftist, and cost a lot of public money. When there are anti-foreigner rightists marching in Vienna, and the police need to protect them, it is not their fault, right? And if they want to have a ball in the emperor’s palace and parade on the square where Hitler proclaimed the Anschluss in 1938, it is their right and they should be protected, and if the whole city center is full of police barricades, it is the fault of those leftists. 

It’s the other way around! In a more open society, there is much less repressed violence. Look at the recent bloody clashes and attacks in many cities in China. That won’t get less, probably. Taiwan people should be very proud of that big, peaceful demonstration on March 30. Their country has become a much better place through the changes of the last 25 years. The KMT could and should be proud of that, too. But they are the 中國國民黨, so they have to think about stability in a much bigger way, don’t they?


十二月 19, 2012

2009年在維也納大學讀了三本《國民文選 · 現代詩卷》(2005年,林瑞明選編)。幾年前已經知道2000年有英語、德語有兩本台灣詩選,到現在是英語、德語裡最全的台灣詩選。英語的是馬悅然(Göran Malmqvist)、奚密(Michelle Yeh)、向陽主編的《二十世紀台灣詩選》,中文版2001年出。到現在最全面的,將來還是最全面的德語台灣詩選是廖天琪(Tienchi Martin-Liao)、李敏勇、Ricarda Daberkow主編的《鳳凰樹》。《國民文選 · 現代詩卷》第三本有四首李勤岸詩:<距離學>、<解嚴以後>、<白髮>、<輓聯一對>。2009年春季應台北書展的邀請翻譯了幾首鴻鴻的詩。那年三月他去德國萊比錫書展,我抓機會去見面。
2009年讀了《國民文選 · 現代詩卷》,第三本裡除了李勤岸詩文還很喜歡包括宋澤萊的<告別二十世紀>、利玉芳的<憑弔>、王麗華 <這是自由的國度 >、莫那能的<恢復我們的姓名>、拓拔斯 · 塔瑪匹瑪的<搖籃曲>、<孤魂曲>,還有溫奇的<失眠>、<剝落的日子>等等。《鳳凰樹》和《國民文選 · 現代詩卷》都有陳黎、利玉芳等等。《國民文選 · 現代詩卷》和《二十世紀台灣詩選》都有楊澤、焦桶、瓦歷斯 · 諾幹。《國民文選 · 現代詩卷》竟然沒有夏宇。《二十世紀台灣詩選》有夏宇28首詩,從1980年到1999年。《鳳凰樹》沒有夏宇,但《鳳凰樹》蒐集的詩人到1956年為止。夏宇恰好那年才生出,沒有入選也許還不算那麼奇怪。
《鳳凰樹》一本包括覃子豪(1912年生於中國四川,1925-1937年留日,1963逝)、紀弦(1913年生於中國河北)、陳秀喜(女詩人,1921年生於新竹,1991年逝)、周夢蝶(1920年生於中國河南)、陳千武(1922生於台中縣,先寫日語詩)、林亨泰 (1924年生於彰化,選集題名從林亨泰一首<鳳凰樹>)、杜潘芳格 (女詩人,1927年生於新竹)、錦連 (1928年生於彰化, 會日語)、洛夫(1928年生於中國衡陽)、羅門(1928年生於海南島)、蓉子(女詩人,1928生於中國江蘇)、向明(1928年生於中國長沙)、余光中(1928年生於中國福建)、管管(1929年生於中國青島)、瘂弦(1932年生於中國河南南陽)、何瑞雄(1933年生於高雄,留日)、鄭愁予(1933年生於中國濟南)、林冷(女詩人,1938年於中國四川)、林宗源(1935年生於台南,寫台灣話)、非馬(1936生於台中)、白萩(1937年生於台中)、李魁賢(1937年生於台北縣)、葉維廉(1937年生於中國廣東中山)、朵思(女詩人,1939年生於嘉義)、張香華(女詩人,1939年生於中國福建)、許達然(1940年生於台南)、楊牧(1940年生於花蓮)、杜國清(1941年生於台中縣)、吳晟(1944年生於彰化)、曾貴海(1946生於屏東縣)、陳芳明(1947年生於高雄)、李敏勇(1947年生於恆春)、陳明臺(1948年生於台中縣)、江自得(1948年生於台中)、羅青(1948年生於中國湘潭)、莫渝(1948年生於苗栗)、鄭炯明(1948年生於台南)、陳鴻森(1950年生於高雄)、百靈(1951年生於中國福建)、陳坤崙(1952年生於高雄)、利玉芳(女詩人,1952年生於屏東縣)、陳黎(1954年生於花蓮縣)、楊澤(1954年生於嘉義縣)、詹澈(1954年生於彰化縣)、向陽(1955年生於南頭縣)、莫那能(1956年生於台東縣)。
《鳳凰樹》總共有46位詩人,34位譯者;是一本非常全面的、多元化的、具有台灣本色的詩選。不過沒有1930年出生於中國四川、2010年逝世的商禽,沒有1951年出生的李勤岸、1954年出生的王麗華。(尚禽有一本《夢或者黎明》2006年在德國出版,譯者Peter Hoffmann.)
我的同事梅儒佩(Rupprecht Mayer)已經翻譯了尚勤、陳黎的詩,還有鴻鴻。我這幾年也翻譯了鴻鴻的詩,還有夏宇、陳克華、吳音寧等等。夏宇還想翻譯很多,應該單獨出另一本書。新竹市教書的倪國榮先生幫我們聯繫到莫那能,倪老師自己的詩作也很值得收入幾首。還有幾位年輕的詩人,都聯繫上了。到現在未能聯繫到瓦歷斯 · 諾幹。如果維也納台灣詩選還可以採用上面提到的宋澤萊、王麗華、利玉芳、拓拔斯 · 塔瑪匹瑪、溫奇就會最理想的。詩選計劃在2013年秋天在維也納Löcker出版社出版。奧地利筆會(Austrian PEN, Dr. Helmuth Niederle 主任)支持本計劃。已經申請了台灣文學館的補助。


十月 19, 2012

Chen Kohua und Lai Hsiangyin treten am 29. Oktober um 20 Uhr im Hörsaal SIN 1, Ostasieninstitut Universität Wien auf. (Campus Altes AKH, Hof 2, Eingang 2.3)

Übersetzung: Martin Winter

Eine Veranstaltung des Österreichischen P.E.N. – Clubs

Mit Unterstützung des BMUKK

Liao Yiwu in Tainan

二月 23, 2012

“My father made me stand on a table when I was small, and recite ancient classical Chinese. I could only climb down after I was able to recite the whole thing by heart. I was only 3 or four years old, maybe. I hated my father.” This is how 廖亦武 Liao Yiwu began to talk to the students and teachers of 國立成功大學 National Ch’engkung University in 台南 Tainan, after he played a wooden flute, a very basic instrument he had learned in prison. Very basic sounds, mute and suppressed at times. Loss and regret. No uplifting fable. “I am not going to tell you very much about the time when I went into prison. You would have no way to understand everything. I was like any young person. I didn’t want to listen to anybody from older generations. And I had gone through 文革 the Cultural Revolution, when my parents couldn’t take care of me. For me, classical Chinese belonged into the rubbish bin, along with many other things. My father was 84 years old when he died”, Liao Yiwu said. Or was it 88 years? Only a few hours of dialogue and open exchange between father and son, in all those years.
Dialogue and open exchange. Between 四川 Sichuan and 台南 Tainan. Between Taiwan and China. Between languages and experiences. Feeling lost, between clashing dialects, conflicting histories. Feeling rooted, at the bottom of society.

On the podium, scholars of 台灣閩南語文學 Taiwanese literature sat along with Liao Yiwu. They spoke in Taiwanese. One professor recited a poem by a high school student. Before Dawn, or something like that. About the massacre from 1947, February 28th. I didn’t understand the words. But you could understand the feeling. The answer is very simple, he said, when a 客家 Hakka student asked what she should do, because the words and songs of her grandmother would die with her. There were too few people who could still speak with her in 客家話 Hakka, she was afraid her mother tongue, her grandmother’s words would become extinct. The answer is very simple, the professor said very gently. He spoke mostly in Taiwanese, so I didn’t understand it all. But he said you just have to study, you can even major in Hakka now. It’s not easy, but there is a common effort.

It was very simple, Liao Yiwu said, when people asked him how he fled from China. I went to 雲南 Yunnan province, bordering Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Tibet. I had made lots of interviews there many years before, with people at the bottom of society. You turn off your mobile. You could also bring extra mobile phones. You get lost in small towns. And then one day I was across the border in 越南 Vietnam, very wobbly on my legs. There was a small train, like in China at the beginning of the 1980s. I knew such trains from drifting around China when I was young. In Vietnam, I was afraid of a lot of things, getting on the train, of simple things to eat. But I could communicate by writing numbers on a piece of paper. 500, wrote the innkeeper. 100, I wrote below. And so on. Finally I was in 河內 Hanoi, in a simple inn. And then I went on-line and contacted my friends and family in China. When I got on the plane to Poland, I was still afraid. The year before, military police in full military gear had come and taken me out of the plane in 成都 Chengdu. But then I realized, although this was a Socialist country, I was in the capital of another country, not in China. And the plane took off.

The lecture hall was full. I sat on the floor in the aisles, like many others. It was a very welcoming atmosphere. “We have a few books to give away for students asking questions in the second part of the lecture.” What is 流浪 liulang? What is 流亡 liuwang? What is 旅行 lüxing? These three words sound rather similar in Chinese. This was another professor speaking. He had studied in Russia. He was from a Taiwanese faculty in 台中 Taichung, but at this occasion, to clarify this question, he spoke in Mandarin. What is drifting about? What is exile? What is traveling? When you are drifting around, you don’t know where you are coming from, and you don’t know where you’re going. When you are going into exile, you know where you are coming from, but you don’t know where you are going, where they will let you stay. When you are traveling, you know where you come from, and you know where you’re going. Very simple differences. But what about us here in Taiwan? 我們是否知道自己從哪裡來,到哪裡去? Do we know where we are coming from, and where we are going? In the 1960s and 1970s, many writers and intellectuals in Taiwan were in prison. It was very hard, but you knew what you were fighting for. Just like the writers and lawyers in China, they know they are fighting for freedom. Now in Taiwan we are very free, in comparison. But we can still be marginalized.

One of the professors was my landlord from 1988 to 1990 in Taipei. He is the chairman of the Taiwanese PEN. In 1988 he was a doctoral candidate in history, and a stage decorator. We hadn’t seen each other or heard from each other for 22 years.


二月 23, 2012

haus der patriotischen frauen
(unter japanischer herrschaft)

fuer Tong Yali

ein baum, ein hof,
der wind, die stadt.
es ist ein warmer wintertag.
in tainan ist es immer warm.
die stadt der tempel, der kultur;
die erste stadt: erinnerung.

MW 22. Februar 2012




《月照無眠》,二零一二年, 台北南方家園出版社,一三一頁

Tong Yali

erinnerung, wagen

der wagen faehrt los.
steine, in schnee eingerollt.
kein wind auf dem meer.
wogen tuermen sich darunter.
der wagen faehrt in den frueheren wind,
in den dunklen strudel.

Aus dem Gedichtband Schlaflos im Mondlicht (Yue zhao wu mian), Nanfang Jiayuan -Homeward Publishing, Taipei 2011, S. 131. MW Uebers. Febr. 2012

Tainan, city of temples. Temples everywhere, many lanes, full of flowers, blossoms, improvised housing, ancient and dated, broken and new. Squares in front of temples for breakfast stands, temple fairs, opera, evening barbecue. Temples complete with public toilets. The main Catholic church of the city is a beautiful traditional temple from 1960. Right across from the temple grounds dedicated to Koxinga, a Chinese-Japanese pirate’s son who fled from the mainland, drove out the Dutch and established the first Chinese kingdom on Taiwan, all in one year, he died rather young. And there is an Earth God’s temple next to the Catholic church. There was a wagon on the square in front of the church, with a few rows of plastic chairs. Very gaudy colors on the wagon, Taiwanese opera. A female warrior with a huge sword, ancient costumes. Tomorrow is the Earth God’s birthday, the church custodian said. Happy birthday! He was in his element, explaining the rich Tainan heritage. Sometimes people come and kneel on the steps of the church, he said, and only then they ask me which important god of the city is housed inside this magnificent temple. And when I tell them this is the Catholic church, they say sorry, we prayed at the wrong place, we didn’t know. Your prayers are very welcome, the custodian replies, and beckons them inside, like he did with us. They had been eating lunch, he and a woman, his wife maybe. Their little chamber next to the door was open. We had looked at the statue first, climbing over stoves and vats with food and cooking utensils, in preparation for the Earth God’s birthday. Mary looks very graceful in a simple and elegant robe, very Chinese, holding her naked baby Jesus. On the mosaic over the main altar inside they look more regal. But it is a very welcoming church. A traditional temple, I-Ching octagon tower with glass windows, couplets left and right written on columns, and boards, wooden and stone. An incense censer in front of the main altar. And an altar on one side for ancestor worship. “Oh, it’s from the 1970s, I didn’t know”, my friend said when we opened the gate, encouraged by the Earth God’s cooks, and looked at the statue more closely. Yes, she has traditional looks, like from the Qing Dynasty, but she is comparatively new, from the times of martial law. White Terror was still practiced on Taiwan when the church was built in 1960. Today, Tainan remembers founding fathers of its modern history inside the Japanese-era house of the Patriotic Women’s Association. These founding fathers of Tainan’s modern era are Japanese and British. Father of water taps and sewage, father of dams and canals, and so on. There is also one guy form the 16th century, sent from China. ”The soldiers who came from China after 1945 and took over from the Japanese didn’t even know houses with running water, they didn’t know taps!” That’s what a poet and scholar told me at the Taipei Book Fair, full of Taiwanese pride.

The last Japanese mayor of Tainan restored the main temples and historic sites. He prevented the Japanese troops from requisitioning and melting the huge bell from Kaiyuan Temple, which is still rung on important holidays. One of the main signs of the Confucius Temple, when you enter the temple grounds, was written by him. The temple grounds are sprawling, open and welcoming. Only the innermost part of the temple is guarded, and the entrance fee is 25 NT, 65 Euro Cents maybe. The city hall and seat of the provincial government from Japanese times is the Taiwan Literature Museum now, very modern and welcoming inside, lots of audio and other impressive installations, beautiful children’s rooms, extensive library, very accessible. This place was our destination when we came down from Taipei and Kaohsiung, an important stop in our one-month stay on Taiwan as translators into German.

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