Three Poems by Han Dong

Three Poems by Han Dong



It’s foggy, or smoky
Perhaps it’s smog
No one’s surprised by that

You can look straight into the sun, floating
Like the moon in ashen clouds
No one’s surprised by that

This morning is no different from other mornings
Yesterday and tomorrow are pretty much the same
No one’s surprised by that

Even on a clear day I can't see roadside trees and flowers clearly
Even if I see them I don’t remember them
Even if I remember them I can’t write about them

If I’m not surprised by that, then
No one else’ll be surprised by that

Easier to muddle through life than to muddle through one thing
Easier to cope with the world than with one person
More knee-jerk reactions, fewer far-sighted actions

I cut through this fog-blanketed city
Cannily avoiding traffic

October 30th, 2009

Walking and Looking

Go down, take a walk
Go around, take a look
Get a few things done
Look at the vast cityscape

Take a look at those trees
Take a look at the sky
Look at the city criss-crossed with streets
Vehicles flying past

Take a look at people, take a look at dogs
Take a look at people walking their dogs
People wearing clothes, that’s normal
Dogs wearing clothes, that’s quite different

Take a look at shops
A feast for the eyes
Take a look at bookshops
As a writer they make me despair

Take a look at skyscrapers
Take a look at flyovers
Take a look at construction sites and kids
Alive and dead, all growing

If there’s a nerve left in your body
Take a few more looks at girls
I want time to stand still
It looks, tastes and smells perfect

Go down, take a walk
Go around, take a look
Finally, stare fiercely at your watch
The illusion’s gone in an instant

December 4th, 2009

A Crackle of Bangers

A crackle of bangers expands space
Fireworks erupt, decorating the skies
Our beloved mother has gone
And this splendid celebration feels strange

Dying, the dead expand space
Missing them, the living decorate the skies
I stand on the veranda silently smoking
The new city square deserted

Walk away
Two old–time people down new-world streets
A future rolled out by glittering lights
As if the sun had been extinguished yesterday

The wind wafts river smells
Explosions of fragrant mud
Emptiness receives me in its embrace
Mysterious kindness opening like a wintersweet flower

Walk away
Who bequeathed us this world, as they bequeathed us to it?
Who traded old for new, rewrote this New Year?
A crackle of bangers expands space
From here on we are more intimate with death

February 8th, 2011






Zhang Yimou: ‘Even Though Our Market Is Growing Fast, We’re Still Not Satisfied’

Jonathan Landreth
Hollywood has Steven Spielberg and China has Zhang Yimou, the senior statesman of moviemaking in the People’s Republic. From Red Sorghum, his 1987 debut right out of the Beijing Film Academy, through Hero, which grossed more in America in 2002 than...



Xi Jinping on What’s Wrong with Contemporary Chinese Culture

from China Film Insider
At the Beijing Forum on Literature and Art last October, President Xi Jinping spoke to a high-level audience of arts professionals about the role of arts and culture in China. The event, along with excerpts of the October 15, 2014 speech, given in...



Jia Zhangke on Finding Freedom in China on Film

Jonathan Landreth
Jia Zhangke is among the most celebrated filmmakers China has ever produced—outside of China. His 2013 film, A Touch of Sin, a weaving-together of four tales of violence ripped from modern-day newspaper headlines, won the Best Screenplay award at...



In Zhang Yimou’s ‘Coming Home’ History is Muted But Not Silent

Eva Shan Chou
Coming Home, directed by the celebrated Zhang Yimou and released in the U.S. last week, begins as a man escapes a labor camp in China’s northwest and tries to return home. But he is captured when he and his wife attempt to meet, after their daughter...



French Director’s Chinese Movie Balances Freedom With Compromise

Jonathan Landreth
In 2012, French movie director Jean-Jacques Annaud got a warm welcome in China after more than a dozen years as persona non grata there for having offended official Chinese Communist Party history with his 1997 film Seven Years in Tibet—the story of...



The Met Goes to China

Jeffrey Wasserstrom
In July, while in New York, I toured The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s much buzzed about “China: Through the Looking Glass,” a visually stunning multimedia exhibit that showcases the varied ways that Western fashion designers have been inspired by...



Banned in China, Independent Chinese Films Come to New York

Jonathan Landreth
Three years ago this week I watched the 9th Beijing Independent Film Festival crumble under the weight of official fear—fear that the gritty low-budget, experimental dramas and documentaries screening in a remote Beijing suburb reflected a touch...



Has Chinese Film Finally Produced a Real Hero?

Ying Zhu
“This Is an Era That Calls for Heroes”—the boldface Chinese characters scream from a publicity poster for the Chinese animation film, Monkey King: Hero is Back, which made headline news in July for breaking the animation box-office record in China...



Japan’s Soft Power Leader in China is a Fat Blue Cartoon Cat

David Volodzko
On July 28, costumed in vibrant colors, throngs of fans flocked toward the early morning light of Victoria Harbor, queueing outside the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center for the last day of the 17th Ani-Com & Games Hong Kong. The...



Chinese Writers and Chinese Reality

Ouyang Bin
My first encounter with Liu Zhenyun was in 2003. At the time, cell phones had just become available in China and they were complicating people’s relationships. I witnessed a couple break up because of the secrets stored on a phone. I watched people...