Insomnia’s Spring (失眠弹簧)

Little iron spring. Heavy.

Earlobes, heavy.

Nose, quite heavy. Sinus infection, severe.

Severe to critical.

 

Little iron spring. Light.

Mosquitoes, light. Chugging fan blades,

surely light. Traditional medicinal drops for the eyes,

very (to extremely) light.

 

So, between light and heavy

my soul escapes upward.

 

***

Translator’s Note:

Yang Qingxiang’s poems have garnered critical acclaim for their unabashed portrayal of the crises facing Chinese Millennials today: poor living situation, medical care, education, and chronic lack of sleep. His poems combine these social themes with a deeply personal reflection of national identity.

New Scar Poetry (新伤痕诗)

New Scar Poetry is a concept proposed by Chinese critics in 2017. It has been observed that the contemporary anxieties experienced by the Chinese due to stark economic imbalances and social injustice have caused a recent wave of poets to respond with a new aesthetics emphasizing hurt and healing. The writers of New Scar Poetry are often Millennials (also known as the post-1980s generation in China) born after the Cultural Revolution who grew up in one-child families. They came of age in a post-socialist reality with vanishing safety nets, cutthroat capitalist competition, and growing alienation due to a market and performance-driven world. These have created deep psychological scarring in the writers and poets. Coined in 2017 against the backdrop of global social discontent, New Scar Poetry can be seen as a distinct Chinese way of dealing with the ills of the age, such as the deepening issues of globalization and shifting personal identity.

***

Poet:

Yang Qingxiang (born 1980) is an Associate Professor of Literature at the Renmin University in Beijing. He is considered a representative of the New Scar Literature Movement. Yang is the youngest member on the judges’ panel for the 9th Mao Dun Prize, the most important literary award in China. His first poetry collection has sold more than ten thousand copies, making him one of the best-selling poets of the Chinese millennial generation.

Translator:

Frank F. Zhang is a chemist and translator. He received his BA in English from Shanghai Normal University and MS in Chemistry from Ohio University. He has worked for both Chinese and American chemical companies. In his free time, he enjoys classical music and traveling around the globe.

 

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