The Lost Tuyoq Valley by Delimulati Teleti – translated by Kwame Dawes

In this extended valley, an ancient fission
between mountains, the insects continue their cycles
inside edifices of dry wood and earthen walls.
Water flows through the valley, soaking the roots
of persistent trees. Colonies of ants lay their eggs
on the cliff walls, leaving trace murals in their wake.

The ghosts of this valley are held frozen inside
the Caves of the Buddhas. In the shade of a mulberry tree,
an old man rests his head in his hands, day-dreaming
to the soft sound of ancient water springs.

From this valley, I see the mansions of lost civilizations
arrayed along the mountainside where the living
have grown silent, while the dead leap and shout as I pass.
Their noise is like a strange wind in my ears, and it only grows
silent in my wake. My expressions change from frown to smile
the way the landscape is scarred by wind moving over sand. 
Here in this wilderness, the heaviness and despair of life
are sometimes overtaken by lightness and levity.

(based on transliteration by Ming Di)

Delimulati Teleti, Uyghur poet, was born in 1963 in Kebokyuzi Township, Yining City, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China. He worked on the railroad and became a school teacher. He started writing poetry in 1982 and started a career as a literary translator from Uyghur into Chinese in 1997 and has published 32 books so far winning many awards including the National “Galloping Horse Award” for Translation, Tianshan Mountain Literature and Art Award, “Khan Tengri” Literature Award, and “Khan Tengri” Literary Translation Award. He writes poetry in Chinese and has published two collections of poems titled All the Way Southward, and The Soul of the Desert.

Kwame Dawes is the author of twenty-two books of poetry and numerous other books of fiction, criticism, and essays. His collection, Nebraska, was published in 2020. He is Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner and George C. Holmes Professor of English at the University of Nebraska.  He is Director of the African Poetry Book Fund and Artistic Director of the Calabash International Literary Festival. Dawes is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. His awards include an Emmy, the Forward Poetry Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the prestigious Windham Campbell Prize for Poetry. In 2021, Kwame Dawes was named editor of American Life in Poetry.