Clouds—all the ways of talking about the world
City—a place for storing all the world’s troubles
Love—reflects all the moods of the moon
Police—take away a certain month’s gloomy looks
Morality—the truth that one cannot bear to recall in middle age, from which can be deduced a wife, hard labor, and a smile
Poetry—the cemetery a poet spends his whole life refurbishing
Dust—as long as you don’t stop stirring it up, maybe good luck will come
Solitude—every sound is like the cry of an injured bird
Freedom—the emptiness of being at a loss after completing hard labor
Door—what can be safe once it is open?
Contentment—you will not suffer from loss or gain if nothing belongs to you
Knife—the form of conversation that goes right to the point
Discovery—nothing more than articulating a topic painful to the ancients
Dialect—a few infertile clouds floating from a poet’s brain
Bats here, there
Countless black shadows piled together overhead
In a moment my loneliness is edged round
If I floated up
To bathe with them
I’d become the astonishing, unbearable weight of the evening clouds
As the bats slowly drag the evening sunlight
I am all alone, the bats are my black swans
Countless sharp teeth screeching to hasten the flow of my blood
Circle after circle
Where do their hopes for happiness lie?
Or does each bat want to ride that skateboard, the moon?
I begin to sense the warmth of their beating wings
Bats, bats that fear solitude, perhaps the problem with you and me is—
Being so close but unable to converse
Youth is a bone gnawed by hate and covered with tooth marks
It’s a cloud of fervent steam that retreats into absurdity
Right now, my face is so kind and genial
The cities I have passed through can all be leveled in my mind
From the distant port to Zhongshan nearby
The days alike are all passé
The happiness I have embraced is also as old as a martyred woman
Who always holds me fast as she goes…
More seeds of youth would become superfluous
Though a mighty river flows through my body
It makes no sound. When young I liked to say the moon was a sickle
But now, it is an even-tempered gem
That simply glitters facing anyone who questions…
Translated by John Balcom
(From the book: Push Open the Window–Contemporary Poetry from China,Copper canyon press copyright©2012. Copper canyon introduction: Forty-nine of China’s finest poets born after 1945 are collected in this comprehensive bilingual anthology, which offers a glimpse into the contemporary world of China’s great poetic tradition. The poems selected by award-winning poet Qingping Wang range from the mystical darkness of Zhai Yongming to the urbanist work of Huang Fan, from the compassion and personal intimacy of Wang Xiano to the philosophical prose poems of Xi Chuan. Translated by more than forty translators from all over the world, Push Open the Window: Contemporary Poetry From China makes available to a new audience many poems which had not previously been translated into English.)
Fifty Rules of New Poetry
I only write down the answer, while you shall look for the question.
- Democracy is becoming a form of New Poetry and a symbol of the lightness of New Poetry.
- Meaning is not the territory poetry intends to arrive at, it is only a method of fortifying feelings
- Ignoring the existence of good works is merely in accordance with the atheism in the heart.
- Feelings are unconvincing as concepts. We often face such a question: concepts can indeed change feelings.
- Do not exaggerate the lyric function of New Poetry. Since we lost our virtues, we have been apt to be feudalistic and sentimental.
- Modernism can descend from thoughts to methods. Only by such a change can New Poetry become more outstanding.
- Use one poem to maintain one image. I tis much better than using one poem to maintain many images.
- The works are actually the products of a community. The history of poetry allows individuals to become a community.
- Only great poets can manipulate vulgarity and can be bold enough to get engaged in the risk of studying national life.
- The purity of poetry benefits just from its impurity.
- Dream is not creation, but a reality. In order to prevent it from impairing imagination, poets need to restrain it properly.
- No need to worry about the life or death of poetry. Its history has ever been written down by temporary forgetting.
- Don’t believe in the meaning implied by simile. You should believe in the feelings stirred up by simile
- The researches on poetry often make people notice images, but the fundamental function of poetry is not understanding, but inspiring.
- New methods help to produce new poetry; nevertheless the proportion of good poetry and bad poetry has never changed since ancient times.
- A poet who has not experienced failure is hart to stick to a certain gist.
- Rhetoric and craftsmanship can in no way make up with a poet’s moral defection. Certainly, in order to annotate morality, one needs both courage and wisdom.
- I appreciate the self-doubting poet. He often highly evaluates his shortage, so he will spends all his life respecting the spontaneity of poetry.
- The more one worries about the value of his works, the more one can enrich himself.
- The helplessness of one poet can just prove his irresistible advance.
- What is epic? As an attained state, it has been immersed in our life.
- Narration and lyric are not so distinct from each other. In fact, they are the two sides of the same thing.
- Style is subordinate to theme, not vice versa
- The second-class poets brag about the beauty of language, the uniqueness of images whereas the first-class poets worry about the shortage of language and the inaccuracy of images.
- Talking about your own poems with your friends is a kind of generous and voluntary feat.
- Complicated threat lies in eliminating communication; simple harm lies in exterminating exploration.
- Being young is a kind of disease of New Poetry. Once you suffer from it, you will be immune from it all your life.
- Success is not the motherland of poets. Poets only hold responsibility for failure.
- Perfect poetry is adaptive. It can be adaptive to different times. The aesthetic poetry can only find a few times that can appreciate its exquisiteness.
- Individual experiences are not subordinate to other people. It is both the individual interpretation of common experiences and the reawakening of the past experiences.
- Misunderstanding tradition is better than imitating tradition. The pursuit of correctness can only restrain New Poetry.
- Poetic flavor does not come from the world, but from the poet’s gaze.
- Eternity is the objective matter created by poetry. Without poetry, the matter will not appear.
- The freedom in good poetry is less than that in bad poetry; The logic in good poetry is more than that in bad poetry.
- Poetry is the song not sung. It is not that the words of a song turn to a song for help, but that the words of a song recover a song.
- Language also has distracting thoughts that belong to itself. Quite easily, language will fan the fire and push rubbish forward.
- In words, there is flesh, It is not necessary there is soul; there is mind, it is not necessary there are feelings; there are images, it is not necessary there is heart-touching.
- The essence of poetry is the essence of civilization; While keeping dignity, it simultaneously makes people not surprised at prediction or possibility.
- I do not trust obscure poetry, but trust difficult poetry; I do not trust the mythology of poets, but trust the mythology of poetry.
- Prejudice is a kind of will, a will to fabricate lies.
- For the time being New Poetry and criticism cannot understand each other, whereas what understanding mobilizes is often manifesto.
- The history of New Poetry is the history of spiritual struggling when people attempt to found a modern country. The vernacular novels cannot really understand the power and strength in it.
- Poets needn’t be faithful to ideas, but they need be faithful to themselves; nevertheless being faithful to oneself is not equal to yielding to one’s own ignorance or defection.
- Morality is not the enclosing wall of institutions, on the contrary, it keeps the power of liberation for us.
- Arousing the sympathetic response of readers should not make poets shameful. We should thank the readers for narrating the poetry again.
- For bad poetry, the problem lies not in inspiration, but in bad judgment.
- A good research on poetry is a kind of convincing modesty that breaks away from laws or rules.
- Today, craftsmanship is not a trial on a poet’s sincerity any more. Craftsmanship is quite possible to own the passion of fabrication.
- Those who write poetry do not necessarily have something to do with poetry. Those who do not write poetry do not necessarily have nothing to do with poetry.
- We still know nothing about New Poetry. The so-called knowledge that we have had about New Poetry is the impulse or wish to convince other people.
Translated by Lei Yanni
Huang Fan (b.1963) is the author of three collections of poetry, Nanjing Elegies, Taiwan Sings and Huang Fan:10 years of poetry. He has published three novels, Waiting Out Our Youth,The Eleventh Commandment and The Floating color, and The Girls’ School Teacher, a collection of short stories. He was featured in the 2011 Copper Canyon anthology Push Open the Window: Contemporary Poetry from China. His work has been awarded the Fangcao Chinese Poetry Prize, the Jinling Literary Prize, the Day After Tomorrow Art and Culture Prize, and fellowships from Cross-Strait Writers’ Exchange, Gottingen University, and the Henry Luce Foundation. An Chief-editor at Nanjing Review and Yangzijiang Poetry Journal, Huang Fan teaches at Nanjing University of Science and technology where he is an associate professor of literature. His writing has been translated into English,Italian,German,Greek,Korean,French and Japanese.