The Song of Changgan / 长干行

I recently did a translation! Bits and pieces of The Song of Changgan / 长干行, by Li Bai (李白)  will appear in Catwoman #37. It’s totally awesome. Thanks to Genevieve for letting me translate, and everyone for buying a copy of Catwoman.

Li Bai (also known as Li Po, don’t panic) was bffs with Du Fu and between the two of them, they wrote basically all the Tang Dynasty (618-907AD) poems you know. About two and a half thousand poems have been attributed between the two of them, so it’s totally okay if you’ve never heard of this one. Wikipedia tells me that “Legend holds that Li drowned when he reached from his boat to grasp the moon’s reflection in the water,” and whether or not that’s true that’s literally the most 盛唐 thing ever.

You can find a preview of this issue over at The Mary Sue; but do yourself a solid and pick it up, because it’s so pretty and I tell you with authority that if you have the same tastes as me, you’re going to love this Catwoman, and this Selina. (I do)

My hair cut straight across my forehead.
I picked flowers, played by the gate.
You came riding on a horse of bamboo,
Around the blue bench, playing with the green plums.
We lived together in Changgan,
The two of us young and without suspicion.
At 14, I was your wife, my shy face not yet open.
I gave in towards the gloomy wall.
Though you called and called, I did not reply.
At 15 I began to smile; I wished our ashes and dirt to be together.
Cherishing, I carried around the words you sent,
I climb the pillar to see you.
At 16, you journeyed far from home,
Through Qutang Gorge and the rapids of Yu.
By May, I wasn’t able to feel;
I heard the sounds of despair.
In front of the door are the footsteps of your delayed departure,
Little by little, the mould grew up and over them.
The moss was thick, it couldn’t be swept away;
The dead leaves of autumn blew in the morning.
In August, the butterflies fell, yellow;
Flew West in pairs to the gardens where grass grows.
The emotions injure me;
Sit and worry about your beautiful old wife.
Sooner or later you will descend through Sanba;
Before then, send a letter home.
We will meet one another, no matter the distance,
All the way to Changfengsha.

妾发初覆额,折花门前剧。
郎骑竹马来,绕床弄青梅。
同居长干里,两小无嫌猜。
十四为君妇,羞颜未尝开。
低头向暗壁,千唤不一回。
十五始展眉,愿同尘与灰。
常存抱柱信,岂上望夫台。
十六君远行,瞿塘滟滪堆。
五月不可触,猿声天上哀。

 Later: maybe I’ll talk about the process of translating on commission for a comic house.

The Early Words: Literature and Identity

I’m at EWF next week, on the Literature and Identity panel which is part of The Early Words.  The Early Words is a series of breakfast time panels next week – the others in the series are Writing Body and Mind and About the Animals.

In Literature and Identity we’re going to be talking about culture, feminism, queerness, and whatever else we feel like at 08:30 (ugh) and discussing how identity is encountered in writing and, my particular favourite, how identity in writing influences our own identities.

A pair of articles on ABC TV’s Serangoon Road: ABC TV’s Serangoon Road and Australia in the Asian Century; Australians in Singapore and the legacy of colonialism on Serangoon Road. [Peril, February 2014] Looking at the representation of Singapore and Australia in a highly publicised ABC-TV production.

In this pair of posts I will be looking at Australia within its regional and historical context, and Asia within Australian media. The White Paper Australia in the Asian Century may have found itself archived to Trove well before its time, but Serangoon Road was commissioned and produced within its moment. It is a reflection of where Australia has found itself for over half a century now; here, separated from its Colonial Masters by the great Asian Monolith.

Form B: For Circumstances Not Covered in Previous Sections [Fierce Family, Crossed Genres, 2014]. I am super honoured to once again be working with Crossed Genres, who do some excellent intersectional work in SFF.

Edith winds up her work day late; she steps out of the office when it’s still dark, but the sky is lightening to the east and once, she knows, there would have been bird song. Now there’s nothing but the hustle and bustle to get home before dawn. Edith hurries, but doesn’t rush. She has her umbrella, against the sun’s early rays; and she has some time.

She loves this part of the night. The slight dip in temperature before the dawn is less than it was fifty years previous, but it’s a dip all the same. There is traffic, but it’s dying down as late workers head home, and she can navigate the streets without bumping arms or risking crashing her umbrella in to someone else.

And there is her mother, waiting at the door. “You leave it so late,” she says, as she ushers Edith inside. “Why couldn’t you have a proper job, be a doctor like Sheryl?”

“And get stuck with shift work?”

“Better that than this push of paper.” Mama closes the door. “You think we still need to make claims now the end has come?”

Mama always likes making melodramatic pronouncements. It’s not the end, Edith knows. Life goes on.

 

One Last Interruption Before We Begin

One Last Interruption Before We Begin, in Steampunked 2: More Lesbian Steampunk Stories, 2011, Torquere Press. If The Last Rickshaw is a love letter, this story is a serenade under the balcony in the middle of a monsoon. A look at colonialism, the logistics of steampunk in South East Asia, and love when one of you believes you are inherently superior.

The Attolia is beautiful, all curved lines and sleek woods. She knows the British ships have been used in war, but the Attolia is so shy and subtle sitting in a berth next to the Bintang Malam, with its sharp edges and ceremonial lines. The boards are a rich brown and the canvas sails are a dull cream made dark by the dust of flight. It is not so brightly coloured as the Malaysian and Indian ships; but it does not sit like a bruise against the sky as the Chinese ships do, and Shun Ping appreciates the difference.