introducing "the nation of aphasia"

I was grateful to receive an award for a poem I wrote about china, the country I was born in, and one I am eternally curious about. it is a place I have come at from a distance, to engage it in conversation, to listen to its stories, its music, and to learn from its seemingly eternal wisdoms. some of my most precious poems have been written with its hand— on the 43rd floor of my uncle’s apartment building in harbin, upon the curb of my grandmother’s house in beijing, in the yellow dust of shandong province, by the banks of the yellow river, looking over shanghai brilliant at dusk, and half-drunk on sweet wine in hong kong. there is no assigning a writer to a singular ethnic literary identity, but in my poems about china, I am proud to be associated with an incredible history of artistic legacy, and am full of thanks for my country, as I know it, to be read, to be spoken to, to be heard.

that being said, the nation of aphasia was written in the aftermath of a case in which five hong kong publishers and booksellers gradually vanished in the winter of 2015. gui minhai, lee bo, lui bo, lam wing-tee, cheung jiping. they were involved in the production and distribution of provocative literature, utilizing the unique “one country, two systems” policy of hong kong-mainland china relations to publish books that would be banned under chinese law. but despite the obviously political nature, this piece is not a call-to-arms. it is not a manifesto. ultimately, it stems from my curiosity and hesitant love for the country I was born in. bao pu, another publisher and victim of the chinese crackdown on “sensitive” literature, said in an interview that he has no ambition to save china. I, too, have nothing so noble to aspire to, but my intent is to give voice to what could go otherwise unsaid. to witness how days pass in china, to be released from presumptions, to deviate from subservient ideologies, and ultimately, to bring a country to coherence, so that we may reach some understanding. this poem did not come out of a desire for justice—a falliable thing—but out of the necessity for scope, some vision. so that one day, perhaps even china, who has remained so silent and so impenetrable for so long, may too open her mouth, and speak.


听到了我写的一首关于中国的诗收到了奖,第一个情感就是荣幸。中国是我的出生地,一个让我永远充满好奇的国家,也是一个我是从远处接近的地方。写关于它的诗的目标,就是想跟它谈话,听它的故事,音乐,并从它的永恒智慧中学习。许多我最珍贵的作品都是用中国编的;在我大舅的哈尔滨公寓43楼,在我祖母的北京房路边,在山东省的黄色尘土中,在黄河的岸边,在黄昏时看着上海的辉煌, 在香港的甜酒上半醉。 没有任何一个作家能够分享一个单一的民族文学身份,但在诗歌中,我很自豪能够与这么难以置信的艺术遗产联合在一起。能让我认识的国家被阅读,让她发言,让我们两的故事都被得悉。

话虽如此, 《the nation of aphasia》是在2015年底写完的。在那个失密的冬天,五个香港出版商和书商逐渐消失:桂敏海,李波,呂波,林榮基,張志平。他们参与了生产和分销挑衅性文学,利用香港独特的“一国两制”政策出版中国法律禁止的书籍。但尽管明显的政治性质,我的诗并不是一种檄文。不是宣言。其实,它是用于对我出生的国家的好奇心和犹豫不决的爱,写出来的。鮑樸, 一位出版商和中国打击“敏感”文学的受害者,在一次采访说过说他没有拯救中国的野心。我也没有任何高尚的渴望;我的目的是吧那些原本无法解释的事情说出来。见证天是怎么过得,让这个国家从推定中释放出来,偏离屈从的意识形态,让我们可以对方了解。这首诗并不是出于对正义的希望,是出于联系必要的景况,愿景。所让有一天,甚至是她,中国,保持如此沉默了这么久,也可能会张开嘴,说话。


you can read the nation of aphasia here

shelly shan

hi, my name is shelly. I do a thing where I make words into unnecessarily emotional composites. I don't know why I'm allowed on the internet, but I like it here.