Yu Yan Chen is a poet and literary translator. Her poems and literary translations have appeared in the US, UK and China. Her first collection of original poetry, Small Hours, was published by New York Quarterly Books in 2011. Her translation of The Chief Cellist, a children’s book by Taiwanese author Wang Wenhua, was published by Balestier Press. She currently resides in Singapore.

 

Zheng Xiaoqiong (郑小琼) was born in rural Sichuan in 1980 and moved to Dongguan City in southern Guangdong Province as a migrant worker in 2001. She is the author of eleven collections of poetry, including Women Migrant Workers, Huang Maling, The Rose Manor, Selected Poems by Zheng Xiaoqiong, Pure Plants, and Pedestrian Overpass. Women Migrant Workers (2012) has been hailed as “the first symphonic verse on women, work and capital in the history of Chinese poetry.” Her works have garnered numerous accolades including China’s Avant-garde Poetry Prize, 2006, People’s Literature Award, Zhuang Zhong Literary Award; the In-Presence Cutting-Edge Prose Award, and the Lu Xun Literary Award, among others. Some of her poems have been translated into German, English, French, Japanese, Korean, Spanish and Turkish. Her poems in Women Migrant Workers have also been set to music by American and German musicians and performed in a number of countries.  

Assembly Line

 

What flows on the assembly line is streams of people

From the east or the west, standing or sitting, in blue uniforms and white caps.

With names of A234, A967, and Q36, only their fingers go to work…

 

Some insert themselves to put on springs and screws.

They drift in and out of the constant flows of people and products

Like fishes, they pull customer orders, profits and the GDP

day and night. While their youth, vision, and dream

push the prosperity of the industrial age forward.

 

Amidst the factory noises, they carry a lonely existence.

Men and women flow into each other, but remain strangers.

They are constantly choked at the deep end. Only glues, screws,

nails, plastics, coughing lungs, and sickened bodies float on top.

 

The assembly line never stops tightening the valves of the city and the fate

Look at these yellow switches, red threads and grey products, the fifth carton

loaded with plastic lamps and Christmas cards, youth, Li Bai,

love that boils and cools. It recites quietly – oh, wanderlust!

 

Within its tiny confine, I catch a glimpse of the movable fate

and scribble down some poetry of industrial age in the southern city.

 

~

 

 

The Distance

 

 

Pain is wearing out the clothes flickering in the light

as the dimly lit train roars across the dark night.

 

Our doors are open, towards the unspeakable years,

while the river rushes to a deeper source of our origins.

 

Light drifts in from every direction like snow. You read the old news

and the new tales in the papers, those published, distant happiness.

 

All alone, I plow through the snow, on the road to resentment,

when a tree falls down diagonally near me.

 

This is the strange land, the end of the year, I am taking a stroll,

searching for my lines and tone on the go.

 

                                                                   

流水线

 

在流水线的流动中  是流动的人

他们来自河东或者河西,她站着坐着,编号,蓝色的工衣

白色的工帽,手指头上工位,姓名是A234、A967、Q36……

或者是插中制的,装弹弓的,打螺丝的……

在流动的人与流动的产品中穿行着,

她们是鱼,不分昼夜的拉动着

老板的订单,利润,GDP,青春,眺望,美梦

拉动着工业时代的繁荣

流水的响声中,从此她们更为孤单的活着

她们,或者他们,相互流动,却彼此陌生

在水中,她们的生活不断呛水,剩下手中的镙丝,塑胶片

铁钉,胶水,咳嗽的肺,染上职业病的躯体,在打工的河流中

流动

流水线不断拧紧城市与命运的阀门,这些黄色的

开关,红色的线,灰色的产品,第五个纸箱

装着塑胶的灯、圣诞树、工卡上的青春、李白

发烫的变凉的爱情,或者低声地读着:啊,流浪!

在它小小的流动间,我看见流动的命运

在南方的城市低头写下工业时代的绝句或者乐府  

 

 

~

距离

 

多少疼痛在磨损,移动在光线中的衣装

光线暗淡的火车长鸣在黑夜里

 

我们开着房门,向着莫名的岁月

河流正朝着我们的身世更深的地方奔涌

 

光像雪从各个方向吹来,你抬头看报纸里旧新闻

新故事,那些刊载的距离的幸福

 

我一个人在雪中经过,在通往恨与怨的路上

一棵树斜穿过,靠近我

 

这是异乡,这是岁末,我走着

在路上找着属于我的句子与语气

 

(Reprinted with permission from the author)