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Provincial rhapsody

A tour of Chinese regional stereotypes – doggerel by Kaiser Kuo


In Dongbei, whence the Manchus came, the men do like their liquor.

While effusive with their friendship, with their enmity they’re quicker

Though they’re honest and straightforward, at the slightest provocation

They’ll show why they’ve been slandered as the Klingons of this nation.


The leggy Dongbei ladies for their beauty are renowned,

(I attest that in my travels, few more fetching have I found.)

But they suffer from one drawback, and it’s very sad to tell –

When they open up their mouths to speak, they break that magic spell.


Ode to Shunyi

A poem by Tom Fearon

We’ve built roads and planted trees
Our malls are new and our parks are free
Our population has increased
As more people head northeast
Because there’s no better place to be
Than right here in Shunyi

We’ve made our district pretty
Kicked migrant workers to the city
We live in tidy villa homes
Near thriving economic zones
From the city you should flee
It’s time to move to Shunyi


Poem: The Last Graveyard


Ed: This is a poem by Xu Lizhi, a 24 year old worker at a Foxconn factory in Shenzhen who killed himself last September. It was translated at the Nao blog, who are happy with other sites republishing the poems. Over at Beijing Cream, Anthony Tao has also posted another couple.

For context, also check out this interview Alec Ash did a while back with Li Liao, an artist who went undercover at a Foxconn factory. He said of the suicides: "I think it was mostly out of despair ... If they leave they are unemployed, and can only go back to their old homes and start a small business. They feel they have no way out."


Ode to the Ill-Fated Banquet

A poem by Tom Fearon

He landed in Guangzhou one hot afternoon
to seal his ailing company's merger.
He'd wine and dine a Chinese tycoon
hoping to take their cooperation further.

He did his homework, or so he thought,
at Cantonese restaurants in Connecticut.
But little did he know, for he hadn't been taught
about China's complex dining etiquette.


Signing Off (from State Media)

A poem by Tom Fearon


I walked up to the east gate
of CCTV in the summer of ’09,
when a soldier stretched his arm out
his white-gloved hand nearly touching mine.
‘Wow, he’s friendly,’ I thought, shaking his hand,
but he pulled it back and made a scowl,
“Please show your ID, young foreign man!”

I sat before my computer
its screen beckoned with a script,
a half-baked lede and awful stand up
in rich Chinglish did it drip.