Friday, 23 November 2012

China-Jun Er

Jun Er
Jun Er
 “I am an onlooker,” Jun Er  writes, “I am unable to fully participate in the life of this world / I am half human in my actions . . .”.
What prompts her to write like that?
More than twenty-five years of economic reform in the People’s Republic have undeniably enhanced the material well-being of millions of Chinese people. Jun Er reminds us, however, that outward prosperity has tended to undermine cultural and spiritual health.
Many of us feel it from time to time: a mournful, melancholy alienation. Jun Er, a new voice on the fringe of China’s sprawling contemporary poetry scene, has embraced the character of the social misfit and imbued it with her own very gentle idiosyncrasies. Rather than angst over her misfit condition, she turns to poetry to explore and to make real for us that hidden other half of life with its curiosities, attractions, visions and occasional bursts of affection.
Born in 1968 at the height of China’s Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), Jun Er is a graduate of the Chinese Department of Shandong University. Perhaps for this reason, the occasional reference to classical Chinese poetry finds its way into her work, but what will probably strike you most about her language is its spareness. Jun Er’s pared down lines seem determined to keep a low profile, avoiding anything flashy or showy. Apart from basic elements such as repetition, parallelism, image and the occasional simile, she generally avoids the use of stock poetic devices. I suspect she does this to set up a start contrast between plain expression and the quirky situations she is fond of evoking in her poems, together with the odd emotional auras that accompany such situations. The poem ‘The Shuffler’ is a good example of this strand in her work:
on my left foot: a shoe
my right foot: bare
yes, you’ll often find me this way
not because I’m a shoe short
but because I can’t be bothered looking for it
sometimes I push it under the bed or a cupboard
with an outstretched leg
so when one foot winds up higher than the other
I’ve only got myself to blame
the shoe on my left foot strolls into the living room
my unshod right foot sneaks off into the bedroom
the two of them co-ordinate to get me to my study
after reading and doing some writing
I put my feet up on a stool or on the desk
and if the elements pay me a visit then
and the whole room gets cold
the bare foot is the first to know it
And yet, despite this emotional quiet, you will also find occasional moments of disquiet in Jun Er's generally funny, deadpan lyrics. In ‘Spider Web’ (not translated for this selection), for example, she complains about her talent for gloominess and likens herself to a spider “passing its lifetime silently weaving / death in its very own web”. Rage, referred to my name in two poems, is for Jun Er something akin to an impersonal cosmic force whose wavelength she is particularly attuned to: “while that brisk wind that comes down from the sky / brings storms, thunder, a rage that will never shatter” (‘Remembrance of Things To Come’). 
Moreover, a furious rejection of the spurious ideal (delusion?) of romantic love seems to be at stake in the poems ‘Do You Believe’ and ‘A Hundred Percent’. ‘Do You Believe’ is openly sceptical. With freezing irony ‘A Hundred Percent’ equates society's notion of female “availability” with complete existential vacancy. This pseudo-visibility of women as embodiments of homogenized male fantasy is another factor that contributes to Jun Er's sense that she only half exists in ordinary reality: the half that evades the skin deep image—“here is my vague smile / it has no real connection with what's happening inside”—is utterly invisible as far as economics and materialism are concerned.
On the whole, there is nothing strident about Jun Er: she prefers above all her low-key approach. (Tellingly, her first collection was entitled Quiet in a Tumultuous World.) Decide for yourself, but I think I can sense a certain calm tenacity in the way the poet responds to her predicament. She is no self-conscious “outsider”, no agitated rebel, no dedicated deviant at war with the way things are. No, Jun Er just tries in her understated way to let things be. At times, especially in the poem ‘Demolition’, she registers her dismay at the ways things are going in Chinese society today, but most of the time she endears herself to her readers by the way she celebrates neglected, ephemeral moments of life, a life lived largely beyond the reach of conventional, plasticated standards of success and happiness.
Some of her Poems

A Hundred Percent
here is my vacant body
take it away with you if you want
here is the vacant look in my eyes
read it any way you want, seduce it
here is my vacant hand
hold it, with no need for meaning
or giving back anything in return
here is my vague smile
it has no real connection with what’s happening inside
here am I, a woman moving with the times
sample her body parts
they have been disinfected for your peace of mind
© 2006, Jun Er
  © Translation: 2006, Simon Patton
everywhere they are demolishing old houses
in Beijing, Dalian, Shanghai, Ningbo, Guangzhou
everywhere the same mad stampede to be comfortably well-off
constant battling
the economy is like an ocean
like a misfortune no one survives
the economy suffers no nostalgia
the economy knows no ideal, no history
old-style courtyard homes
ancient fishing villages
the small windows and wooden doors of the South
the banner houses and old streets along the banks of the Pearl River
everywhere: demolition
the earth is covered in reinforced concrete
they try to outdo one another in height
trying to be more cool
wherever you go
the fallen leaves are swept by autumn winds
and annihilated
© 2006, Jun Er
© Translation: 2006, Simon Patton

Do You Believe?
do any of you still believe in that
that awkwardness?
in the cages’ fragrance?
in the bones’ lust?
do you?
© 2006, Jun Er 
© Translation: 2006, Simon Patton

Drinking Alone
I fetch a bottle of wine from the balcony
and remove the cap with a kitchen knife
then, getting close to the post-rain air,
I drink until I start to feel tipsy
the process is simple, pure
in the course of time
it could grow to be a habit
I am sure
it brings me a decadent pleasure
come and go
sometimes I get my days mixed up
but I like the taste of this loneliness
a day spent keeping myself company
is like a copy of some moment in the future
when grass will grow in the sky
and a road will wind through clouds
© 2006, Jun Er
© Translation: 2006, Simon Patton

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Zimbwabwe:Christopher H. D. Magadza

Christopher H. D. Magadza

 Christopher H. D. Magadza (1939) B. Sc., M. Phil. (London), Ph. D. (Auckland, New Zealand) is Founding Fellow of African Academy of Sciences and Founding Fellow of the Zimbabwe Academy of Sciences. he is a man whose life has served as a barometer of Zimbabwe’s more recent history, experienced as it has been through the filter of a fine academic intelligence.
Magadza was born in a village in Chief Kaswas’s area, now called Burma Valley, in Manicaland, Zimbabwe. He was educated at St Augustine’s Mission, Penhalonga, near Mutare, and Fletcher High School in Gweru, and read for a B.Sc. and M.Sc. at the University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Magadza completed his Ph.D. in New Zealand.

Magadza is not a merem poet alone; he is  a limnologist, though now retired; he was a member of the International Lake Environment Committee and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He has worked on New Zealand, Zambian, and Zimbabwean inland waters. For his post-retirement activities, Magadza is involved with the International Lake Environment Committee in attempts to restore Lake Chivero; he also established the Middle Zambezi Biosphere Reserve in the Global family of UNESCO Biosphere Reserves after twenty-three years of work.

In 2007, Magadza retired from the University of Zimbabwe but still teaches; in the same year he was made co-recipient of the Noble Peace Prize given to the International Lake Environment Committee and former President Al Gore for work on Climate change assessment.

Magadza is married to Maggie and they have two daughters, Shelagh and Tendai, as well as two grandsons, Sipiwe and Langa.
Some of his poems
I have seen your eyes
Close in death
Yet the smile seemed
To linger on your face.

I have held your stiff hand,
Felt the deep silence
And heard your unspoken farewell;

I have seen the grave
Embrace you
As a mother
Takes her child
To her bosom.

Yet I beg you,
Ndapota, please
Stay with me awhile.

African girl
Drenched in African heat
Not in disco ecstasy
But burdened
By the weight of life;
For the family crucible

African woman
In far-off times
On those sun-beaten savannahs
Haunted by beast and serpent
You fashioned intelligence
And called your newborn
Homo sapiens
A living star
Whose light would outshine
All celestial stars.

Now he fashions star wars
And says you
Are underdeveloped.
Your ancient bones
Exposed by the eroding
African hunger
Lie sacrileged
Among museum trivialities,
And jesting
They dub you
Lucy the fossil.

Yet you still bear
The fire of life;
Like a lioness hunting
For her cubs
Kneaded by the African sun,
Buffeted by tropical storm
You roam the wasteland
For the ingredients of life;
Water and fire.

African woman
Mother of mankind
And its destiny yet.
. . .
African girl
You are a good . . .
Black . . .
The African
Suffers poverty
From humans

The African
Suffers pain
From Humans.

The African
Sorrows, bereaves
From humans

The African
Suffers torture
From humans
Because the African pain
Is painless pain.

The African
Starves differently
From humans
Because it is African
To starve.

The African female
Endures rape
Quite differently
From women

The African child
Is a child soldier
A slave child
Or  a mere street child.

The African migrant
Is an illegal migrant:
No citizen
But a refugee
In his home.

The African dies
From humans.

The African’s
Birth mark
Is a black scar

The African
Is African:
Not human.

That is why
African leaders,
A little more African
Than Africans,
Insist on
African solutions
To the African

I can see clearly now
The shack is gone
I can see the stars
Quivering as if
Afraid of the dark

I can see
The baleful moon
With clouds blowing
Across its distraught face,
Lonely as if

I can smell the freshness
Of the garbage
The persistent breeze,
Like the tax man,
Insistent on its demands
On my body warmth.

Now I can see the dawn
Painting the sky
Blood red
The early warning
Of the visiting hunger

I can feel the sun
Teasing me
With its morning warmth
That soon turns
To a scorching hate.

Now the compound
Is silent and mute,
I can hear distant calls
From lost children: a generation
With no past nor future:
A mere memory lapse.

Oh what delight
To share the morning music
Of Nature alive with you.

To bathe in the splendour
Of a tropical morning sun;
To wander down the winding path
Bejewelled with the raindrops sunset glitter
And share the wild fragrance
Of the forest’s hidden charms;

To hold hands
And feel the belonging
To share the warmth of the body
And sleep the slumber
Of wearied saints.

Yet lonely,
One lonely day
One of us
Will see the other
Smile no more;
Embrace and kiss no more;
And speak only
In echoing silence;
Silence echoing
Down the catacombs
Of love’s indelible memories.

Oh Father
How I have heard
That silent
Repeating silence.

All poems are under Copyright
Thanks Poetry International

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Kamran Mir Hazar(Afghanistan)

Kamran Mir Hazar
Kamran Mir Hazar
(Afghanistan, 1976)   
Kamran Mir Hazar is a prominent Hazara journalist, human rights activist and writer who now lives with his wife and one-year-old daughter in Hønefoss, Norway, where he also works. He has set up two much-read websites: the news site and the more literary-focused
Mir Hazar is a politically committed poet. of educational books and publications on politics and censorship  His poetry is influenced not only by his own Persian-language cultural tradition but also by Latin American writers such as the Mexican Juan Rulfo and the Colombian Garcia Marquez. He has had two poetry collections published: lahn-e tond-e asbi dar ezlâ'-e parvân-e sjodan (The Cry of a Mare about to become a Butterfly) in Stockholm in 2009, and before that, Ketâb-e mehr (The Book of Mehr). Mir Hazar’s criticism of the general treatment of Afghan refugees meant that his first poetry collection was prevented from being published in 1995 by the Iranian censorship board.
 In 1999, he wrote an open letter to the UN, UNESCO and UNICEF in which he described the fate of numerous Afghan men, women and children, and which was signed by 330 Afghan and Iranian intellectuals. It was not warmly received by the regime. Mir Hazar’s most recent book, Censorship in Afghanistan, has recently been published by Norway’s IP Plans e-Books. It is the first book to explore the systematic suppression of free speech in Afghanistan, which has been a feature of its ruling authorities for hundreds of years.

In 2004, Mir Hazar returned to Afghanistan, where he set up a critical literary magazine. A few weeks later the publication was banned. He then became news editor and reporter of two Kabul radio stations, Kelid (Key) and Salâm Watandâr (Greetings Fellow Countryman!) His continued fight against Hamid Karzai’s increasingly repressive regime has been supported by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Reporters sans Frontières and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). His clashes with the authorities have deeply affected Mir Hazar; he has compared the appalling conditions in the local prisons with Guantanamo and later described them in a series of five poems entitled Viroes-e nevesjtan (Writing Virus). After his release, Mir Hazar feared for his own safety and his journalistic projects and decided to leave his country for good. After travelling to India, and with the UNHCR’s intervention, he ended up in Norway.
Some of his poems:-
A bronzed face and tiny purple veins,
A smooth face of Mayan mould,
The colors of saffron and pasture,
Hunched in a bright overcoat
And woolen hat,
The long coat’s tassels wary of the slashing winds of mountain land,
On the invisible flag: whiteness and the antlers of a stag
With a heart dispersed and diffused;
Ferried by a gramophone’s sound waves,
Sensation is channelled in the air,
The command, the book and the empire of catapults, and way before
A sensation is in the air, expanding
In the arm, and the disintegrating arm,
In the solitude of darkness
And when someone’s death is announced in the hour of divination,
Hiding from life,
And escaping between the clear and the blurred faces,
A desire for the pulse to drop,
In the cleft of a ruby; the fruit of Badakhshan ; and a crying face;
In the birth of eyelashes and the soft fabric of shivering dew,
To appear and to nestle between tresses,
The burning of intense fever, lubricious more than ever, magnetic more than ever;
Swinging in the direction of inopportunity, the wheel of fortune, turning
And standing;

In a curling clock destined to melt,
Slippery on the cheeks, the annihilator of the restless cloak, endlessly turning;
You stand,
You watch,
You drink tea;
Like a rainbow, you slip on the chair;
You pick up a cigarette,
And light it;

The flickering lantern awakens,
Swirls around the cloak,
Rising from the margins, coloured blue,
And stands on your heart,
Evaporates through your eyes;
Creeping to a corner is an emerald ring stone,
The slippery past of a faraway destiny,
And you reach the curved line,
Entering a geography of latitudes and longitudes,
The composition quickens;
In the middle of the open field, again and again,
A church turns into ruins,
Recomposing in the breaking of light and the unique path of your voice,
And passes through latitudes and longitudes;
The heat lifts the cloak,
Settling on the crucifix of your ribcage,
On the chair, shivering,
With the fluttering fabric of dew
You drink tea,
You light up the rainbow lamp,
You drown,
And the pen turns round and round,
And you write your own death;
It moves up your fingers,
Pursuing the path to your mouth,
You collapse within your pulse,
You write this,
And you disintegrate between the seconds;
You go to the post office,
You ask for a letter of the perished,
Searching for an omen;
You take the by-way,
You look for an epiphany,
In a rainbow shawl,
And shake crimson-coloured medals,
You say hello, peace be upon you,
And then goodbye;
You are dispersed between the sound waves of a gramophone,
Your heart diffused and ferried by the sound waves of a gramophone,
You stay at home
And seek prophecy,
Searching for an omen in the hours;
The bronzed face heats up,
You wrap yourself around my body;
Looking for where the breaths join up,
You’re released in my throat;
You move up,
Become tears
And flow down my cheeks;
You go to the post office,
Seeking a letter from the dead;

A longing to let go,
A date with the unsung heroes of time,
And empires beyond the age when writing was invented;
The ones that were never put in ink,
Embarking on the saddle, taming the lines,
Abandoning time, leaving the five senses behind;
That bronzed face, a prototype found when iron was discovered
A one that never, ever found reflection in ink.

Writing viruses
And electronic labyrinths
With a blackout and no computer
In a rented house, at seven thousand a month;
Kabul, the Afghan capital!
What silly poem is this?

You ask yourself, is poetry the same lonely words that wander in electronic corridors,
Cut off from their existence,
Thrown away, with no choice but to become a poem?
You watch imagination wandering through paths, over the paths,
You throw the leash at yet another word,
Trying to subdue this wild one,
And if you fail,
You stop functioning,
Like a computer crashed.
There was someone, someone who wrote viruses
Behind a diesel-powered laptop
Looking for URLs and
An anonymous mail would be sent
Connecting you to a site, infected;
“I am from Florida, the USA, and 23 years of age,
Looking for someone to follow the link, and make happy”;
To open the mail and to make someone happy?
First, stop the programs;
Passing through security, typing 97, 98, 99,
Approaching the death of romance between zero and one.

A virus-writer drank half a beer bottle at once;
Then, computer deaths;
First to the east of Paris, a house,
Australia, three minutes more,
A man is waiting out the last minutes of an office shift
Needs to get home;
A party is starting in half an hour;
The Philippines, minutes later,
A 19-year-old girl
In a chat room,
Showing off a used body;
In Egypt, more or less the same time,
And the next morning, Kabul.
You, and you, also you,
Yes, you and also you,
You are all arrested!
They tell me, stop writing!
You write and we’ll show you Guantanamo at home,
You write, we’ll kill you.
Kabul, summer of ’07
Hands in handcuffs, feet tied up;
This is Afghanistan, and this here where it is going,
Dead bodies over dead bodies.
The poem has no choice but to stop writing itself.
This is prison.
They asked a Kabul sparrow
Just what is mankind up to?
The sparrow considered this and died!
 With respect
with love
with the shining sound of Ghamar Al-Molook Vaziri (1)
with wild red-winged horses
 with the circle of a wave that runs through a the wave
with Ney Anban 
with the paradisiacal tones of a saxophone
with travel
with the inventor of the first plane

A lost sense
drinking wine in lost taverns
the duty of the first cupbearer
the duty of the first lovely melody
the first one who submitted to travel
became a passenger
packed the suitcase
the one who never spoke in his native language
the one whose words got disturbed through French words

with the humbleness with love
with happy music
the pure descendent of Kooshaniyan 
with the child of the sorrowful Mir Hazar–the king of kings- 
from the poet of rains

With respect
with the royalty of the month October
and the time that knelt down on his veins
and rain that would be rich towards all countries and divisions
maybe by the Brazilian god
the god who worked in all cane sugar farmlands
by the unformed and air-like naked space 
connected to one foot of the devil
with the red-skinned of the south of the California
with red rose’s ceremony in the disturbed Afghanistan 
and the being strange of our martyr

In each land which rain falls on
the sorrowful poet is in each land
by the sky,
by water,
by the soil, fire and wind which are current in the time’s figure
and has got rolled in death by magic
that it’s the very measure
the quality which comes from lost windows
and that’s not a volley of any gun
death is living inside the world’s soul
the identity out of all fantasies
without feeling any pain
you will become a garden
that is watered by a virgin

Death is the formed sense of the human-beings
that it is the measure
and the time is equal with what human-beings can do
time will stay equal till the passenger returns his home
out of the current of all betting and tickets of lottery
time is rolled in death by magic
and this sunken ship will return to tattooing over and over again
and its passenger will arise
for participation in a ceremony
to see the fight in the field of bullfight
in the beginning of a painting which rain falls on

Rain will be towards all lands
towards all the countries and divisions
towards the fully-lined face of an afghan soldier
towards the unformed and air-like naked space
directed to the space of thunder and song
this dusty cradle and old stage-coach
connected to one foot of the Devil
while beginning of the ceremony and singing inspirations
to form a ballet in the grief of whom you like

Getting pushed towards an afghan melody
while getting blended with the shining sound of Ghamar Al-Molook Vaziri
joining the first tones
by the initial tones
by music.