Grandmother’s last clothing is a reed mat
her coffin a small fishing boat
The year was 1960
She stole a kilo of yellow beans
Those who ordered her to kneel on snail shells
are mostly dead
Those still alive
are also old
Some are tending shops
some sleep
or herd ducks

Translation of   "Yi jiu liu ling nian ji shi. "  Copyright Yang Jian. By arrangement with the author. Translation copyright 2011 by Fiona Sze-Lorrain. All rights reserved.












Yang JianYang Jian

Born in Anhui Province in 1967, Yang Jian worked as a factory laborer for thirteen years before writing poetry during the mid-eighties. Recognized as one of the greatest living Chinese poets, Yang Jian writes in the tradition of pastoral poetry. The author of Remorse (2009), Ancient Bridge (2007), and Dusk (2003)—rated as one of the top ten national poetry titles of the year, his honors include the Yiu Li’an Poetry Award, the Rougang Poetry Prize, the Yulong Poetry Prize and the Chinese Media Literature Award. Also a prolific ink and wash painter, he leads a Buddhist life in Ma’anshan, Anhui.

Translated from ChineseChinese by Fiona Sze-LorrainFiona Sze-Lorrain

Fiona Sze-Lorrain co-directs Vif éditions (, an independent French publishing house in Paris, and co-edits  Cerise Press ( Author of Water the Moon (Marick Press, 2010), she is a zheng concertist. She writes and translates in French, English, and Chinese.