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Four Poems

Born in 1966 of mixed Han and Kazakh origins, Yi Sha is one of the most avant-garde poets in contemporary China. His poetry breaks completely with the decency and decorum of traditional, revolutionary and even so-called post-modernist Chinese poetry. In post-1989 Chinese literature he comes closest to the popular novelist Wang Suo in his “hooliganism”, the iconoclastic subversion of the rule of politics over art and literature and the secularization of what has been sublimated by the party. What Yi Sha does in poetry, as he says in his poetic manifesto to Starve the Poets (1994), is “to commit much evil”. “Let poetry enter into an era in which it speaks like a human being,” he declares. “Go to the extreme!”


my understanding of a nation is not abstract
if america did not let off Ezra Pound
it would not tolerate me

no! I am not satisfied with my own country
but that does not mean that I shall love america

The Chinese Punk

that was absolutely a rock ’n’ roll scene

thirty years ago
when my grandpa was shorn
by the red guards

into a weird hair style
neither yin nor yang neither like human nor devil
very much resembling the style that is popular today

the chinese punk: thirty years ago

A Blueprint

in a tiny blank space
on the blueprint of the urban plan
I drew a church at random
to allow the city to become a city of faith
is this what people refer to as
“the finishing touch”
please consummate my self-satisfaction

Wild History

I went to bed early tonight
there were loud shots outside
the wind blew out
the fluorescent light
the ink was knocked
over the clean white paper
the cat was on the beam
crying its master’s name
and the master was under his quilt
as silent as a cold cicada
all night
the dog who had left at around midnight
returned at dawn
the dog who had left at around midnight
was back with a human head in his mouth
from the old execution ground
I scrutinised it
actually it was the head of xxx
lost in the year of xx
except that there was a bullet hole in its forehead
except that there wasn’t a tail on the back of its head
I cried out in surprise:
“Your Excellency!”

Translated from the Chinese by Ouyang Yu

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