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Jacket 15 — December 2001   |   # 15  Contents   |   Homepage   |   Catalog   |

Yang Lian

Ten Years

Translation by Mabel Lee

Time passes like a fish swimming towards its own flavour
Cliff not under your feet     Years
Emptier than a word     Sea wall
Sharp nipples suckling the storm
Rocks are not there     You are turned like a brass screw and rust
In the armpits of sparkling waves     Epitaph of a sunken ship
A name swathed in fish scales
Sloughs off fleshy curves     Art of cloistering jellyfish

This blank expanse called water     Turns sweet
Is called old     Sunlight with the pull of a magnet
Ten summers in your lungs
Trims back     The black water level in a haemorrhaging garden
Reflections in the harbour dance upside down
Trying to remember     A nature like yours someone had left behind
Gulping down a glass of sour self-brewed beer in the kitchen
Like pouring it into the sink     The graduate skeleton spits out
another zero

Photo of Yang Lian by John Tranter, Berlin, 2001

Yang Lian began publishing poetry in China in 1979. His most recent poems, essays and theoretical writings have been collected and reprinted in two volumes as Yang Lian zuopin(1998: Shanghai Wenyi Chubanshe, Shanghai), a work amounting to a total of over 1000 pages. His poems have been published in English in literary magazines in Hong Kong, Australia, USA, Canada, and the UK. His major English-language books include the following:
Masks and Crocodile, translated by Mabel Lee (1990: Wild Peony, Sydney).
The Dead in Exile, translated by Mabel Lee (1990: Tiananmen Publications, Canberra).
Where the Sea Stands Still: New Poems, translated by Brian Holton (1995, 1999: Bloodaxe Books, London). This book was named “Poetry Books Society Recommended Translation” (1999) in the National Competition of Foreign Poetry Books in English Translation, UK.
Yi, translated by Mabel Lee (forthcoming June 2001: Green Integer, Los Angles).

Mabel Lee is Honorary Associate Professor in Chinese Studies at the University of Sydney where she was a member of the academic staff for thirty-three years. Her translation of his novel Soul Mountain, launched in Sydney by HarperCollins (Australia) in July 2000, won international acclaim after Gao Xingjian was declared Nobel Laureate for Literature on 12 October 2000.

Photo of Yang Lian by John Tranter, Berlin, 2001

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