2016 Lucien Stryk Shortlist: Ripened Wheat, by Hai Zi, trans. by Ye Chun

Ripened Wheat: Selected Poems of Hai Ziripened-wheat_cropped-to-front-cover
By Hai Zi
Translated from the Chinese by Ye Chun
(The Bitter Oleander Press)

Hai Zi is one of China’s most beloved poets, whose suicide at the age of 25, just months before the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, catapulted him to a fame that is almost mythic in proportions. Although his poetic oeuvre is relatively small, his archetypal descriptions of a rural and natural world now virtually extinguished by industrialization, have a lyric intensity that is richly evocative: 

Sunlight

Pear flowers
arise along the dirt wall
Cow bells dinging

Auntie brings my nephews over
They stand in front of me
like two charcoal sticks 

Sunlight is in fact very strong
Whip and blood for all that grows! 

Ye Chun is not the first translator to represent Hai Zi’s poetry in English, but her generous selection of poems and informative preface provide an excellent introduction to this marvelous poet. 

 

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