Poems and Paintings by Yan Li (严力) with translations by Anna Yin

Yan Li (poet and artist) was born in Beijing in 1954. He started writing poetry in 1973 and painting in 1979. He was a member of the pioneering art group “Star Painting Club” and the literary group “Today” in Beijing in 1979, and held the first solo exhibition of pioneering art in China in 1984. In 1987, he founded the poetry journal “First Line New York” (which ceased publication in 2000) and resumed publication in New York in June 2020, where he continues to serve as editor-in-chief. He is the president of the Overseas Chinese Writers’ Association.

《艺术外滩》专栏现场 ∣ 严力: 首次与二十一世纪共进晚餐

Interview with Yan Li (2004)II Artist of the Month – Yan Li (2021)

dream

首次与二十一世纪共进晚餐
严力


坐下来!
两厢情愿的位置总让我受宠若惊
命运用缘分为我压惊
未知的前景里
有几片审美的雪花开始融化
我幸福地感叹着:
无法推迟也不能提前
它适合从冬天向春天过渡
适合从人到情的那段距离
但也适合就此别离
不许奢望!
从历史背景里伸出的手
把我拉回到已登过记的镜框中:
请保持与旧照片的关系
请继续消磨以前的曝光
但更重的分量让我坐在这里
坐下来感受逐渐电脑化的食欲
坐下来接收营养追随数码的电子邮件
这是新世纪首盘感情软件的下载
我吩咐招待员:
快把买单拿来
我要赶晚上9点去火星的航天飞机

2001.1


The First Time to Dine with 21st Century

trans by Anna Yin

Sit down!
I am over flattered by the consensual seat
Fate calms me down with lucky coincidence
In an unknown vision
a few artistic snowflakes start to melt
I exclaim with happiness:
neither postponement nor advance
It fits the transition from winter to spring
It fits the distance from first contact to love
But it also fits this farewell
Don’t wish!
The hand that reaches out from the background of history
pulls me back into the frame where I was registered:
Please keep the relationship with the old photo
Please continue to wear out the previous exposure
But the heavier weight makes me sit here
sitting down to endure the gradually-computerized appetite
sitting down to receive the nutrition-following-digital emails
This is the download of the new century’s first emotion software
I call the waiter over,
“Bring the bill.
I need to catch the 9:00 p.m. shuttle to Mars.”

纪念 /严力

2001年9月11日那天
我在电视画面上看到了
有一个人从世贸大厦往下跳的镜头
这个镜头在之后的许多日子里
不断地在我脑中浮现
不断地
浮现
而我也不断地希望下面是水
是游泳池
是一场跳水比赛
有几次
我甚至感到了溅起的水花

不久前
水花真的溅了起来
并打湿了我的衣裳
因为我突然领悟到
这也是一种通过我的内心
让他进入天堂的方式

Memorial /trans by Anna Yin

On the day of September 11, 2001
I saw a footage of someone jumping off
The World Trade Center
On the TV screen
This scene replayed in my mind
Over and over for many following days
Repeatedly
Replaying
And I wish continually there were water below
A swim pool
A diving competition
Several times
I even felt the water splash

Not long ago
The water really splashed
And damped my clothes
Because I suddenly grasped
A way to ferry him into heaven
Through my inner world