Posts

Showing posts from October, 2008
Image
食指
The Hand of the Poet

THE WORLD LITERATURE TODAY CONFERENCE
AT BEIJING NORMAL UNIVERSITY
FRIDAY OCTOBER 17, 2008

It is early Thursday night. The first day of the conference has gone nicely, and I am walking along in Beijing with Kwame Dawes. We ease along as we do when we talk, little by little, a slow motion kind of ambling that is as much southern and Caribbean as anything else. The shops are mostly closed, although the night is young. I have been here before, but it is Kwame’s first time, and for him it has personal significance. His father came here in a delegation from Ghana long before the opening of China. In presenting his paper, “Babylon by Bus,” he spoke of his father.


We get to an upraised section of the next sidewalk and two people are approaching. It is 食指 Shi Zhi, the poet, and his wife. We poets have just had a wonderful festival reading that included poets from the Beijing area. Shi Zhi is a very special poet, a living monument for the contemporary Chinese lyric. …
Image
Back to China
回到中國

October 14, 2008
十月十四日二零零八年
Beijing 北京

Beijing is a big city, not unlike big cities everywhere. The structures of these places are the buildings we build, and they are also the structures of our attempts to stay connected with each other, to know and to be with one another, to understand. On Monday, I landed in Mainland China for the third time. It is Tuesday evening here in Beijing’s Jinhua Hotel as… I write.


I was invited to the World Literature Conference at Beijing Normal University and the Fulbright 31st Anniversary Conference at Days Inn in Beijing’s Chaoyang District. Once my friends in the literary community here heard that I was coming, my itinerary filled so that I will be quite busy on this trip and happily so.


My friend Bei Ta made temporary arrangements for me through his friend Nan Feng, a businessman. At the airport I was met by Nan Feng’s secretary and a driver. They took my bags and walked with me to the car. The airport has been redesi…