Sounds by Zheng Xiaoqiong translated by Jonathan Stalling and Xian Liqiang

Every sound I hear is stiff, perpendicular
Like massive iron hammers clanging and clanging upon anvil plates
And whispered sobs, so woeful, awkward, barely audible
“Ah, we can walk, even run
But cannot grab a hold of our own fate!”
Turning around I hear sounds like incised iron
Round, square, strips......that I cannot name
Life’s hammer beats and beats.
“We are crying, for they removed”
In the bright light of the furnace fire and daylight
I see myself as a cast iron
Each little piece snagged and cut
And transformed into spare parts and unspeaking tools
Transformed into silence, into a dark, mute life!
Zheng Qiaoqing was born in 1980 in Sichuan, China. She went to Guangdong, Southern China, in 2001 as a factory worker and won the literary prize from People’s Literature magazine in 2007 for prose and the Dongwan Lotus prize for poetry. She has been widely published and won numerous honors since then. Her work has been included in New Cathay – Contemporary Chinese Poetry (Tupelo Press, 2013).
Jonathan Stalling, associate professor of English Literature at the University of Oklahoma, is the author of Poetics of Emptiness (Fordham, 2010), Grotto Heaven (Chax, 2010), and Yíngēlìshī (Counterpath, 2011), and is the translator of Winter Sun: Poetry by Shi Zhi (University of Oklahoma, 2012). In addition, Dr. Stalling has published translations of Bei Dao, Mang Ke, and Li Yu. He is the co-founder and editor of Chinese Literature Today magazine (CLT).
Xian Liqiang, professor of Chinese Literature and Language at South China Normal University in Guangzhou, China, is currently a visiting scholar at the University of Oklahoma (2012 – 2013). His work currently focuses on the influence of American poetry on 20th Century Chinese poetry.