In a 1989 interview, Han Dong declared that he wrote poetry for nobody, not even himself. He likens the poet to a roofer: "I write poetry for the constitution of poetry, just as a roofer gives no thought to who lives in the house whose roof he is covering?he builds to meet the criteria of what a house is. Poetry is not subordinate to purposes beyond itself: its highest purpose is to be without purpose."
So?and?so's come to a sad end . . ."
In the gloom, he smiles gently, lovingly
As if to say I can rely on him in this world of nothingness
"But the thing is, we could never be sure
. . ."
"We probably should" and "Possibly". . .
Earnest words like the thread in a foster mother's hand
As she darns a monk's ragged robe
That's a story that can't be darned
"Poor man!"?The thread is knotted
But the knot in my heart tries to pass through the needle's eye
The tree leaves at dusk have an oily gleam
Han Dong was born in 1961 in Nanjing, where he continues to work as a full-time writer. He is also a respected novelist?his first, published in translation as Banished! by University of Hawai'i Press, was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize 2008.
Nicky Harman lives in the United Kingdom. Besides translation work, Harman is active on the Chinese translated fiction website Paper Republic and in literary translation organizations in the United Kingdom.