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Yan Jun's poetry in translation

Some translations of Yan Jun’s poetry into English, French, Dutch and German

 

For current info on Yan Jun and his various sound projects, see http://mu.subjam.org/yanjun/.

Artspace China has a long interview from August 2011: http://blogs.usyd.edu.au/artspacechina/2011/08/post_3.html 

Yan Jun’s poems have been translated into English, French and other languages for about a decade. Maghiel van Crevel’s report from a poetry event in Beijing, along with extensive translations, appeared online at the MCLC Reseource Center in 2003: http://mclc.osu.edu/rc/pubs/yanjun.htm, see also http://h1753510.stratoserver.net/w/The_Poetry_of_Yan_Jun

 

Yan Jun’s poems have appeared in various magazines, for example Cerise Press in Spring 2010 (http://www.cerisepress.com/01/03/shi-ke-and-yan-jun-innovative-poets-from-china)

There is a longer text by Yan Jun called Noise and the Apocalypse on the site “pangbianr” (http://pangbianr.com/noise-and-the-apocalypse/), with acoustic   accompaniment and references to the Chinese original in a Taiwanese magazine.

Yan Jun’s poetry was featured in the project Poesie in die Stadt: Chinain Germany in 2009. See http://www.bosch-stiftung.de/content/language1/html/24938.asp

 

The following poems were written between 2008 and 2010, and translated in 2010. See also my paper on Chinese literature from 2000 and 2010 (http://langmates.com/dujuan99/blog/3650/), which contains translations of the three poems Charter 09, April 25 and This Moment. My page Translation on erguotou.wordpress.com (http://erguotou.wordpress.com/translation/) has English and German versions of This Moment.

 

This Moment was recited by the author and presented with my English translation at the Rotterdam Poetry International Festival in June 2011. They also have many other poems by Yan Jun in Chinese, English and Dutch at 

http://international.poetryinternationalweb.org/piw_cms/cms/cms_module/index.php?obj_id=19777&skin=pif

 

Four poems from 2008-2011 have appeared in the latest number of the German magazine Dianmo (July 2011, http://dianmo.files.wordpress.com/2008/05/dianmo_jul12_web.pdf, p.32/33

Two poems also appear at Lionel Marchetti’s site Lampe-Tempete
http://www.lampe-tempete.fr/sommaire8.html

Lionel has a few French translations at http://www.lampe-tempete.fr/yanyunLT8.html

 

The poems below are followed by the text Northern Roundworms by Che Qianzi. Northern Roundworms is actually a liner note for a new CD by Yan Jun.

 

 

14. Februar, Mit Vater im Krankenhaus

Feb. 14, Taking Father to Hospital

214和父亲去医院

 

We had breakfast. Took our medicine.

Battled with polluted air.

我们吃了早餐  吃了药

和污染的空气做斗争

Wir haben gefrühstückt.. Nahmen Medikamente.

Wir kämpfen mit verschmutzter Luft.

 

We got up early. To wait at the hospital

And recognize the ear doctor’s steps.

我们早起  在医院等待

辨认着耳科大夫的脚步声

Wir stehen früh auf. Um im Krankenhaus zu warten.

Wir erkennen die Schritte des Ohrenarztes.

 

We were silent. Sat in a row.

Stored our silence in the air.

我们沉默着  并排坐着

把沉默存进空气里

Schweigend sitzen wir nebeneinander

Und speichern die Stille ein in die Luft.

 

One day. Two days. With our hands behind our backs

Standing in the slow-moving elevator

一天  两天  我们背着手

在缓慢的电梯里站着

Einen Tag. Zwei Tage. Mit den Händen hinter dem Rücken

Stehen wir im langsamen Lift.

 

The scarf is new. The ice and the garbage are new.

We are listening to each other. Until we hear nothing.

围巾是新的  冰和垃圾也是新的

我们互相听  一直到听不见

Der Schal ist neu. Eis und Abfall sind neu.

Wir hören einander zu. Bis wir nichts mehr hören.

 

2008.02.14  Yan Jun, 2008-02-14  MW Tr. Febr. 2011MW Übers. im Febr. 2011

 

 

Febr. 18, Strindberg from Labrang

 

He heard of Beijing.      It made his ears ring.

Northern bicycles.        Slipped through the sky.

 

He heard of Labrang.     The monastic name rang.

Northern pancakes.       Covered with snowflakes.

 

He went to the cellar to watch underground movies.

And now he is old.         Doesn’t go anywhere.

 

Snow’s on the street.     Bicycle is downstairs.

Strindberg from Labrang.     Doesn’t hear anything.

 

Yan Jun                   Feb. 18th, 2008 in LanzhouMW          Tr. Feb. 2011

 

2月18日,夏河的斯特林堡

 

他听到了北京  他是它的耳鸣

北方的自行车  在天空中滑过

 

他听到了夏河  法号响起了

北方的大饼  被雪花盖起来

 

他在地下室看地下电影

他老了  哪里都不去

 

雪在街上  自行车在楼下

夏河人斯特林堡  什么都听不到

 

2008.02.18,兰州

 

18. Februar, Strindberg aus Labrang

 

Er hörte von Peking      Das Sausen der Ohren

Das nördliche Fahrrad           Rutscht durch den Himmel

 

Er hörte von Labrang             Der Mönchsname klang

Der nördliche Fladen            Mit Schneeflocken drauf

 

Im Tiefgeschoß sieht er die Untergrundfilme

Er ist alt geworden                Geht nirgendwo hin

 

Der Schnee auf der Straße            Das Fahrrad im Hof

Strindberg aus Labrang         Hört gar keinen Klang

 

Yan Jun, 18. Februar 2008, Lanzhou

MW                Übers. im Febr. 2011

 

 

June 2nd, A Peaceful Life

 

A peaceful life has never appeared

A thunderstorm never really came down

 

Except for the ceaseless      doubled dizziness

In the afternoon     tying       the girl who keeps screaming

 

Erotic as water

Water as water       in boiling water the moment of stillness

 

Another afternoon         the next afternoon

Passed without motion         has not gone away

 

 

Yan Jun, June 2nd, 2008

MW                Tr. Febr. 2011

 

 

62日,平静的生活

 

平静的生活从未出现

就像雷雨从未真的降临

 

除了无休止的  加倍的晕眩

在下午  捆绑  操着尖叫的姑娘

 

水一样的色情

水一样的水  开水的片刻宁静

 

又一个下午  下一个下午

静止般地经过  又从未消失

 

2008.6.2

 

 

2. Juni,  Ein friedliches Leben

 

Ein friedliches Leben ist noch nie erschienen

Als wär das Gewitter noch nie ausgebrochen

 

Außer der endlose doppelte Schwindel

Am Nachmittag              fesselt    das kreischende Mädchen

 

Wie Wasser erotisch

Wie Wasser, das Wasser              Das kochende Wasser, die Stille davor

 

Wieder ein Nachmittag         der nächste Nachmittag

Ohne Regung vergangen                       und doch nie verschwunden

 

Yan Jun, 2. Juni 2008

MW                Übers. im Febr. 2011

 

 

 

 

 

August 10

 

Apples fell from the sky

And backed up traffic

 

People fell from the sky

Inventing ice cream

 

Now is that time

Now the walnuts are ripe

The library’s finished

The key burning the red door is blue

 

And so we have met

Flying birds invent flying

Sneezing mysteriously          We raise our heads

 

 

Yan Jun August 10th, 2009

 

8月10

 

苹果从天上下来

把交通堵起来

 

人类从天上下来

发明了雪糕

 

现在就是那个时刻

现在核桃成熟

图书馆竣工

蓝色的钥匙烧着红色的门

 

所以我们相遇

飞鸟发明了飞

我们抬头  神秘地打喷嚏

 

2009.8.10

 

10. August

 

Ein Apfel kommt vom Himmel herunter

Und hält den Verkehr auf

 

Die Menschheit kam vom Himmel herunter

Und erfand das Speiseeis

 

Jetzt ist diese Zeit gekommen

Die Nüsse sind reif

Die Bibliothek ist errichtet

Blaue Schlüssel brennen rote Türen

 

Also sind wir uns begegnet

Fliegende Vögel erfanden das Fliegen

Wir heben den KopfNiesen geheimnisvoll

 

Yan Jun    2009-08-10

MW         Übers. Febr. 2011

 

 

 

Northern Roundworms – Che Jianzi

北回虫

 

车前子

Translated by Martin Winter

 

1) Northern Roundworms

一.北回虫

Yan Jun has sent me e-mails with the following titles: “North”, “Recycling”, “Wormhole Chance Composition“. The contents of the attachments lacked any formal classification. I combined some parts of the titles and came up with “Northern Roundworms.” I just printed out these names. That was all. Now Yan Jun wants me to write a little explanation. The explanation follows: I pick up my “Modern Chinese Dictionary (Commercial Press expanded edition 2002)” and flip through it randomly, for example now I hit upon “low employment” – that’s a mistake, so I employ a lower page, like page 9. Page 9 has various syllables in different tones that sound like “an”, where “an” can mean “container”, “eat food from one’s hand”, “I, we, our (in dialect)”, “dibble holes for planting seeds”, “the first sound of a Buddhist mantra”, “so”, “another way to write ‘an’, meaning I, our, we in dialect”, “ammonium”, “to powder a wound”, “’an’ as in ‘bi’an’, a legendary animal drawn on the door of a prison”, “shore”, “lofty”, “press or push down with your hand”, “according to”, “note”. With these 15 words, I go into “Northern Roundworms”; at the ninth line it says “record”, so I record fifteen words: “meanwhile, passing cars lifting up a strong wind”. Including the punctuation, this sentence has almost exactly 15 syllables. “Chinese people always look outfor good connections”, and so I combine those 15 kinds of “an” with the sentence before, connecting them one by one: (container) mean- (eat from hand) while (I, me, mine), (dibble holes) passing (mantra) cars (so) lifting (ammonium) up (wound powder) a (prison sign) strong (shore) wind (press) and so on. “Recording means to kill the truth. Then you make it into a specimen, or meat cooked with soy sauce. And then you eat it, digest it, and absorb the truth.” If I don’t go according to the absorbed truth I had in mind – what isn’t true is below –

(container) mean (shore), a strong wind,

And if it’s not absorbed, it’s not meat in soy sauce, just meat cooked dark. But doesn’t this sound too much like Zen? Let’s digest it a little:

(container) mean strong wind,

And absorb it a little:

(container) mean wind,

And digest a little more:

(container) wind,

This is still too much Zen. I am against Zen in art. I promote antagonism. “I am doing what anyone could be doing.” “This is probably my basic principle.” “In regard to the truth, I don’t have to be a special person.” In regard to myself, I don’t have to be a particular “container wind”, so I flip through to page 825, for example – there are three syllables that sound like “lu” in fourth tone, meaning “to move the eyeballs” or “road” and a “lu” that means “to insult, humiliate”, but the character can also stand for another “lu”, which means “to kill, or to fight together”. With these three characters, I go back into Northern Roundworms, to Page 825, and stop at an empty space, because Northern Roundworms doesn’t have a page 825, there are only all these lines (1-9-9) on this paper I printed out. So I look for the 825th character, which is “ji”, third tone, meaning “self”, or “sixth”, because it’s the sixth of the Heavenly Stems, used for counting years, hours and so on.

“Chinese will always like to be well connected”, so I let “self” come together with “eyeball-moving”, “road” and “insult”. One character getting together with three characters, this is a little excessive. “Of course this is altogether a different cup of tea with chicken feathers and garlic peel”, as we say. “Are these chicken feathers and garlic peels over here any different from those chicken feathers and garlic peels over there?” “Is there any difference between chicken feathers with garlic peels and chicken feathers with garlic peels? There is no difference. There is only a difference between chicken feathers and garlic peels.

 

颜峻(Yan Jun)他发来电子邮件:《北方(North)》;《回收(Recycling)》;《虫洞机遇作曲(Wormhole Chance Composition)》。附件作为形式没有等级内容。我把它们合作一起,并命名为《北回虫》,也就是说,我把《北方(North)》《回收(Recycling)》《虫洞机遇作曲(Wormhole Chance Composition)》打印在一张纸上。颜峻(Yan Jun)他要我写段说明。说明如下:我拿来《现代汉语词典(商务印书馆2002年增补本)》,随意翻阅,比如我现在翻到“低就业”——这是一个错误——应该是“第九页”——“第九页”上有“盦”“咹”“俺”“埯”“唵”“唵”“唵”“唵”“铵”“揞”“犴”“岸”“岸”“按”“按”——这十五个字,我就走进《北回虫》,走到“第九行”,停下,在“第九行”这一行“录音”,录下十五个字:

中间,过往的汽车掀起很大的风,   加上标点,正好十五个字。“没办法,中国人就喜欢搞关系……”,我让“中间,过往的汽车掀起很大的风,”和“盦”“咹”“俺”“埯”“唵”“唵”“唵”“唵”“铵”“揞”“犴”“岸”“岸”“按”“按”搞在一起。一个一个搞,关系:

盦中咹间俺,埯过埯往埯的埯汽铵车揞掀犴起岸很岸大按的按风,  “录音就是杀死真实。然后要么做成标本,要么做成红烧肉,吃掉,消化并吸收掉真实。”没有按照我意志吸收掉的真实——不真实在下面——  盦中岸,很大风,

没有吸收掉的肯定不是“红烧肉”,是“肉烧红”。这样,是不是也太有禅意?再消化一些:   

盦中大风,  再吸收一些:  盦中风,  再消化一些:   盦风,

还是太有禅意了。我反对艺术品中的禅意!我鼓吹艺术品中的敌意!“我做的事情都是人人可以做的。”“这大概是我的基本原则。”“对真实而言,我并不需要是一个特别的人。”对我而言,我并不需要是一阵特别的“盦风”,比如我现在翻到“第八二五页”——上有“睩”“路”“僇”——这三个字,我就走进《北回虫》,走到“第八二五行”,停下,在一片空地之上,《北回虫》根本就没有“第八二五行”,它(在我打印的一张纸上)只有“一九九”行。我开始找“第八二五”个字,这一个字是“己”,录下这个字:

  “没办法,中国人就喜欢搞关系……”,我让“己”和“睩”“路”“僇”搞在一起。一个搞三个,有点奢侈。“当然这是另一些鸡毛蒜皮,”“这些鸡毛蒜皮,和那些鸡毛蒜皮有区别吗?”“鸡毛蒜皮和鸡毛蒜皮之间,没有区别吗?”鸡毛蒜皮和鸡毛蒜皮之间没有区别。鸡毛和蒜皮之间,有区别。

 

 

2) Chicken Feathers

二.鸡毛

One chicken feather: Always changing shape 一根鸡毛:它始终在变形,

One chicken feather with one chicken feather: Always changing shape, you can also say no sound is wasted,一根鸡毛和一根鸡毛:它始终在变形,也可以说没有声音是多余的,

One chicken feather with one chicken feather with one chicken feather: Always changing shape, you can also say no sound is wasted, together with anything you like called up inside your body, 一根鸡毛和一根鸡毛和一根鸡毛:它始终在变形,也可以说没有声音是多余的,以及随便什么你身体里被召唤起来的东西,

One chicken feather with one chicken feather with one chicken feather with one chicken feather: Always changing shape, you can also say no sound is wasted, together with anything you like called up inside your body, every kind of bastard is encouraging you, 一根鸡毛和一根鸡毛和一根鸡毛和一根鸡毛:它始终在变形,也可以说没有声音是多余的,以及随便什么你身体里被召唤起来的东西,每一个王八蛋都在激励你,

One chicken feather with one chicken feather with one chicken feather with one chicken feather with one chicken feather: Always changing shape, you can also say no sound is wasted, together with anything you like called up inside your body, every kind of bastard is encouraging you, and if you think about it, how can you not be moved to tears? 一根鸡毛和一根鸡毛和一根鸡毛和一根鸡毛和一根鸡毛:它始终在变形,也可以说没有声音是多余的,以及随便什么你身体里被召唤起来的东西,每一个王八蛋都在激励你,想到这你难道不热泪盈眶?

 

3) Garlic Peels

三.蒜皮

[Do you know why these Western avant-garde musicians love to throw dice? Because they are lazy, evading their duty, they don’t want to choose.][For improvisation, they always say you need to empty your self, – but what if I can’t make myself empty – then I just have to observe myself, and see how non-empty I am.][You set up the machine, throw the switch, and the self starts to interfere, no-one can pretend not to be around anymore.][Nobody is more special than other people.] 【你知道,为什么那些西方先锋派音乐家喜欢丢骰子吗?因为他们偷懒,逃避责任,不想选择。】【即兴演奏那件事,都说是需要把自我放空的,我放不空怎么办啊——那我就观察着我,看我是怎样的不空。】【架好了机器,摁下开关,自我就开始介入,谁也别假装不在场。】【没有谁比别人更独特。】

 

[…] Flipping through the dictionary ≠ throwing dice. […] Making excerpts ≠ emptying your self. But making excerpts = improvisation. […] So is improvisation always making excerpts?【】翻词典≠丢骰子。【】摘抄≠自我放空。但摘抄=即兴演奏。【】那么,即兴演奏=摘抄吗?

 

 

4) Chicken Eat Worms

四.鸡吃虫

“This“ ”This” “This” “This”“各个”“各个”“各个”“各个”

“Active”“积极”

“Oh” “cackling” “bricks” “all the way until” “squeaking”“哦”“咯咯”“瓦”“直至”“直吱”

“Squeak”“吱”

“Squeak”“吱”

“Squeak” “Creak”“吱”“唔唔”

“Cock-a-doodle-doo” – Chicken eat worms, and produce eggs.“喔喔喔”——鸡吃下的是虫,生出是蛋。

 

Aside from that, parts of the dictionary belong to vision and noise; any noise is also auditory writing. […]I have done a limited edition called “Che Qianzi: Recent Works”, which consisted of 20 pages ripped from “A Modern Chinese Dictionary (Commercial Press expanded edition 2002)”and bound into a separate volume. 另外,一部词典也就是视觉噪音;一件噪音也就是听觉文字。【】我做过一本限量版《车前子近作》,从《现代汉语词典(商务印书馆2002年增补本)》中撕下二十页,装订成册。

 

 

5) Writings

五.文字

Listen! Criticizing ears. Right now we are criticizing ears. 听!批判耳朵。正好批判到耳朵。

 

It’s not politics; it’s not economy; it’s not culture; it’s not art. Yes, sound: noisy. It is art; it is culture; it is economy; it is political. 不是政治的;不是经济的;不是文化的;不是艺术的。是,声音:噪音的。是艺术的;是文化的;是经济的;是政治的。

 

The animals can only be small animals. 动物只能是小动物。

 

Nothing heard by chance; just recorded by chance. 没有偶然听到的;只有偶然录下的。

 

Tools: Opportunities are the tools. 工具:机遇即工具。

 

Soul: The materials are the soul. 灵魂:材料即灵魂。

 

Avantgarde just means not timid enough, we need more of that. 先锋意味着还不够胆怯,需要做得更多。

 

Who can be more brave than the conservative, more blunt, more unscrupulous? In art. 谁能比保守更勇敢、更粗鲁、更肆无忌惮呢?在艺术上。

 

The decibel level of silence exceeding the noise, in China?沉默的分贝超过噪音,在中国中?

 

When you are about to wash your hands, the water screams – “left” “right”; washing your ears, you see the bottom of the great river: their face has booked a soft pillow on the riverbed. 洗手之际水发出尖叫——“左”“右”;洗耳的时候大河见底:它们的脸在河床预订了松软的枕头。

 

This is nothing unique, so we are very inspired.  一点也不独特,所以我们兴致勃勃。

 

Listen! Fortunately there is some inspired noise. 听!幸亏还有噪音是兴致勃勃的。

 

Written in Beijing in the morning of Jan 19, 2011, in the Mumu (Eye- wood) – Building.

2011-1-19,上午,北京,目木楼


 

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