Shu Cai (Chen Shucai) 树才 was born in Fenghua, Zhejiang, in 1965. He majored in French at Beijing Foreign Studies University, graduating in 1987. He worked as a diplomat in the Chinese embassy in Senegal from 1990 through 1994. Since 2000, he has worked at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in the Foreign Literature Research Institute. He currently lives in Beijing. His publications include, among others, a poetry collection entitled Alone, and an essay collection entitled Peeking. His work has been translated into many languages, including French, English, Spanish, Italian, and Arabic. He has also translated and published poetry collections including Selected Poems of Pierre Reverdy, Selected Poems of Rene Char, and Selected Poems of Yves Bonnefoy. In 2008, he received the Order des Palmes Academiques (Order of Academic Palms) from the French government.
The Everything of Everything
Slowly. The everything of everything
in the drawers of memory
will find its own place.
After lightning ends, the sky is empty again.
Thunder’s accomplice will perhaps be in the next moment.
The sound of thunder doesn’t necessarily know.
The hand of the river’s flow that Nature extends
is also spinning the prayer wheel for emptiness.
Human beings? They have different worries.
The gaze can never rise beyond the forehead.
Just stitch one good poem, in the heart’s apex—
as good as the six-word mantra.
Our train is the same spring-summer-autumn-winter train,
heading to an unnamed future.
How many peaks as tall as the sky still can’t be climbed?
How many creatures anxiously wish to plunge into the mother’s womb?
Slowly, everything slips toward another everything . . .
and everyone will surely make way for another.
Slowly. The everything
of everything: is nothingness!
Translated by Jami Proctor-Xu
Widely considered one of the most influential and innovative poets of his generation, Zhang Zao 张枣 held a PhD in philosophy from the University of Trier. His poetry relies on a philosophical underpinning even as it maintains a delicate tension between traditional Chinese verse and a modern sensibility gleaned in part from many years spent living, studying, and teaching in Germany. His work often displays an explosive imagination that sometimes borders on the surreal, but the emotional power behind it is always genuine. Proficient in four languages, Zhang was also highly regarded as a translator; he brought the work of Rainer Maria Rilke, Paul Celan, René Char, and many other poets to a Chinese readership. In 2010 at the age of forty-eight, he died from lung cancer, cutting short an illustrious and still-developing literary career.
The Sixth Method
If all five kinds have been used up
still staying on the outside of the vastness
it can’t be touched, it can’t be shut
like a medicine that examines a chronic sickness
there’s no hope, it’s best to swim away like a comet.
So the fine dust on my face will startle me awake
I see clearly a strand of gliding drunkenness
and the long ice-melting wind of a strange land
blows the light into brightness, into darkness
it makes me turn hot and cold toward you
Going through the equally blundering landscape
the verdant rocks, the nestling on the other side,
the bright moon from morning to night illuminates
and the flowing water, the endlessly flowing water
makes the displays above and below change and
Translated by Eleanor Goodman and Wang Ao
Huang Guangqing 黃廣青 is the Chinese penname of Enoch Ng Kwang Cheng, who is the founding editor of First Fruits Publications—Singapore’s foremost venue for contemporary English and Chinese verse—and one of the most innovative and allusive poets writing in Chinese today. A collection of his verse was recently translated into English by the writer and literary translator Yeo Wei Wei under the title Landfall Day: Selected Poems by Ng Kwang Cheng. Winner of the 2005 Singapore National Arts Council Golden Point Award for Poetry, “Family Matters” is a lapidary meditation on recent Chinese history and the traumatic changes that have taken place in the wake of China’s decision to embrace a now-nearly global commodity culture in which, as Marx once put it, “All that is solid melts into air. . . . “
(5) After the Fall
run avian distances
flourish or wither what matter?
the image on the screen as before
the sunny prior to fall
children are paddy rice
scooters are beetles
streetlights are matches
airplanes are bats
the floodwaters our father who art
Translated by Steve Bradbury
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From Chinese Literature Today Vol. 2 No.2