Thursday, December 17, 2009

One of China’s leading internet poets



by Yang Li translated from the Chinese by Steve Bradbury, December 2009

Back in our day there wasn’t anyone who didn’t know Albania
who didn’t know it was the bright light of European Socialism
or that the other bright light was us. Back then
from Beijing to Tirana, we could all singA bosom friend afar brings distance near... It wasn’t till much later that
I learned these words were by Wang Bo of the Tang.
He died a long time ago and was never in Tirana.
I doubt he’d ever heard of the place, much less that it was very, very small.
A pal of ours named Wei Guo once said to us rather cryptically: all
Albania is just like the little upstart kingdom of Yelang.
I remember, I swear: it was the summer of ’74.
We had just turned 12 and thought what he’d said outrageously reactionary.

Yang Li is one of China’s most prominent internet poets. A founding member of the Sichuan-based “Not-Not” Poetic Project, Yang Li has since forged a style all his own. Among his print publications is Canlan or Splendor, a 623-page tell-all chronicle of the avant-garde poetry scene in China during the closing decades of the last century.

Steve Bradbury’s poems, essays, and translations have appeared in Jacket Magazine, Sentence: a journal of prose poetics, Tinfish, and elsewhere. He has published three volumes of poetry in translation, most recently, Feelings Above Sea Level: Prose Poems from the Chinese of Shang Qin. He lives in Taipei, where he edits Full Tilt: a journal of East-Asian poetry, translation and the arts.