Shen Wei







Tuyu Valley Village


Village in a valley.   Cemetery on a mountain slope.

The village shrinks by the year, the cemetery grows larger by day

The village is in a low place, in deep shade

The cemetery is in a high place, under the scorching sun

The villagers are in gardens plucking grapes, being busy

When they raise their heads, they reap from the dead

An angle looking down on themselves, a pair of eyes.






One weary of the world, on a nine storey rooftop

Choses to fall–

Ninth floor: an old man beset by toothache hovers between life and death

Eighth floor: Wrapped in smoke, a table of people plays majiang in dissolute darkness

Seventh floor: a couple makes non-stop love to rock and roll music

Sixth floor: a bald man who came into riches quickly scolds a young maid fresh from the farm

Fifth floor: a woman applies red lipstick, suddenly a mysteriously smile

Fourth floor: Aromas waft from the kitchen, the good wine is ready, guests are arriving

Third floor: the owner is out, a famished feline mews uncontrollably

Second floor: lullaby, a month-old infant sleeps

First floor: in his study a poet mired in thought considers “life”…


One weary of the world, in the moment he falls to the ground

No one sees him, neither does the world change

On the muddy surface, just like the sudden blooming of a fresh flower

It scares up a cloud of dust, and a few foraging pigeons




Woman on the Sunporch


On the arid sunporch, she pots several desert plants

Her beauty may be narcotic, like an opium poppy

But without having grown thorns, couldn’t harm a passerby

In seconds, I fell in love with her

Including the haggard look on her face, the man and child likely behind her

Unlike a prodigal or sot do not love as heartfelt, enduring

This woman without form or name, contrived by the sunporch

Because of abstraction, she belongs anyone who sees her

She distributes herself: a look in the eyes, the act of putting up her hair

Bending over to lift her silk stockings, quickly evaporated by the air

Apparently occurred outside reality, unrelated to this feeling or place

As long as I can finger her heart’s touch of pain

I will thunder toward her with all my might

However, her loneliness is an impregnable fortress

Her body sealing off a multitude of tenderness

Her breath is in close contact with the distance, the horizon, the sun’s rising and setting

Can it be that she is merely a flicker in my capricious thought?

But I clearly see her, this woman on the sunporch

And those odd, wild desert plants


Her sexuality, like a spider plant dangling down, touching the floor

Her breasts, like two young deer, leaping a palisade

Her unreality perhaps insignificant

Her debasement possesses a wooden ladder stretched up to the heavens

She, in her speechless calm, not uttering even a sparrow’s chirp,

is living in a warm nest, brooding over her eggs

Or just holding her breath and heart, ready to spread her wings and take flight




In the Forest


Falling leaves strewn about the earth

Bird chirps caught in tree tips


One horse stands in shade, four hooves sunk in stillness

Yet fire gallops inside veins


Wind’s hatchet turns sharp, brutally chops

One tree’s trembling quickly infects the entire forest


Light beams furtively shift, douse land’s golden yellow

Followed once more by sky dissolving blue


Earth utterly silent, snow soon will fall. In this moment

No melancholy can mingle with the forbearance of the world






— Where are you from?


“I’m not a southerner,

nor am I from the northwest.

For the time being I’m from Urumqi.”


–What’s your sorrow?


“I bear no sorrow of my own,

nor do I bear history’s anguish.

Only that of a forsaken city.”


–What do you want to say?


“A wall with form is not scary at all,

You can push it, smack into it, tear it down and blow it up.

Formless walls, though, grow ever higher…”


–On which side do you stand?


“I do not stand on this side,

Nor do I stand on that side.

I only stand on the side of the dead.”




Translated by Tim












Shen Wei is a poet, prose writer, critic and one of representatives of Chinese poets born in 1960s.  He was born in Huzhou, Zhejiang Province in 1965, graduated from Chinese Department of Zhejiang Normal University and moved his residence in Xinjiang in 1988. He is a member of Poetry Writing Committee of China Writers Association, editor in chief of Western, a Xinjiang literary magazine, visiting professor of Xinjiang University and Shehezi University and the first class writer.


His works include seven collections of poems: Instant Staying, Abyss in a High Place, My Dust, My easy paths, Xinjiang Poems, Shanshan, Shanshan, Poems of Shen Wei(edition in both Uygur and Han(Chinese) languages), Selected Poems of Shen Wei, five collections of essays: Xinjiang Dictionary, Legend of Plants, Kashigar, and etc. Two collections of criticism: Erato of Noon and so on. He also writes a guidebook name Xinjiang Feast–Backpack Travelling in Asian Hinterland. He has many compilations. He is the playwright of many stage productions like Singing and Dancing Poems Agajay and Dolan. His poems and essays are translated into over ten languages like English, French, Russian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Hebrew, and Romanian. He attended 10th NISSAN International Poetry Festival hold in Israel, 10th Venezuela International Poetry Festival, 2011 Asian Poetry Festival hold in Korea and 2014 China-France Poetry Festival.


Literary awards he acquired: Lu Xun Literature Prize, October Literature Prize, Liu Lian Poetry Prize, Rougang Poetry Prize, Poetry annual poetry prize, Poetry Monthly annual poets prize, National Excellent Youth Reading Matters Prize, Tianshan Art Prize. His Singing and Dancing Poem Agajay won National Stage Art Masterpiece Project Award. His collection of essays Xinjiang Dictionary English edition (translated by Gu Ailing) got 2013 literature translation award granted by American Ninth Letter magazine.  


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