Poetry, the Language-distorting Experimenter
Poetry, the Language-distorting Experimenter

 

Sofia is a DP1 student and a young poet. Her passion for writing started at the very young age of 11. She published 《旷云集》(Kuang Yun), her first book of collection of her bilingual poems when she was 15. Two months ago, Sofia won the “00s International Poetry Award” in the bilingual category. The judges described the elements in her poems as “sharp and original.” They also commented that "She is capable of maintaining the consistency of style and tone across Chinese and English, which is rather hard and precious." In this article, Sofia shares more about her story, the award she received, and the inspiration she draws from nature and from her experiences in UWC. 

Content

 

Poetry, to me, is magical, pure, unique, liberating……

 

Ever since I was small, my style of thinking (always leaping from one subject to the next), ingenious and bold imaginations, and an endless curiosity to explore the world all seemed to have reflected certain essential qualities of poetry. When I wrote my first poem at eleven years old, I fell instantly in love with the world of poetry.

Two months ago, I won the 1st ‘00s International Poetry Award’ for the bilingual category. Founded by ‘00s Poet Society’, the ‘00s International Poetry Award’ is open to all Mandarin students born after 2000. It consists of three award categories: Best Mandarin Poems, Best Bilingual Poems, and Honorable Mentions. As I am a Chinese American, I grew up speaking both English and Chinese, thus my poems are also written in both languages.

Currently, the ‘00s Poet Society’ includes Mandarin-speaking poets living in China, the US, Switzerland, UK, and other parts of Europe. Its motto is: let us knock open the doors of the new millennium, and release the poetry within!

 

I joined ‘00s Poet Society’ from the very beginning- over one year ago, as one of the founding members. It gathered a bunch of young high schoolers who are passionate about poetry to explore, study, and create poems together. I find this type of cross-nation poetry-engaging opportunities for people our age especially rare and precious, thus have always treasured the chance offered by this poetry club.

 

Winning this award was very exciting for me, as it represented the acknowledgment from professional poet judges, which gave me a lot of support and encouragement. However, this is not an excuse to stop and be complacent, as there is still a long, seemingly endless road ahead.

Sub-title

Time

It is an indeterminate swindler

Arbitrarily shifting

Between a god of warmth

And a cold-blooded assassin

Or appears bloodless

 

In routine it delivers life into the devil’s hand

Even beings of its own kind; rattlesnakes, crocodiles…

 

It frequently encounters inevitable quarrels

With nature, death, and man kind

 

It certainly receive major triumphs,

But many times ends up with minor defeats

And wobbles in trembling steps

 

It is an unqualified employee, yet fully occupied

With two hundred and thirty three occupations

 

It succeeds as a connoisseur of the fine arts

But fails to digest the struggles of desperate souls

 

O but look at the faithful lovers who did not separate

And the lines of poetry that will never fade

Every vow made,

Every word written,

Is a win over time

Sub-title

时间

它,一个摇摆不定的骗子

任意地变动于

一个给予温暖的神灵

和一个冷血杀手

或者看似了无生机

 

把生命拱手相送到死神的手掌是它的日常

甚至他的那些同类;响尾蛇,鳄鱼……

 

它也会遇到不可避免的争执

跟大自然,死亡,和人类

 

当然,它会获得重大的胜利

更多时候,它会惜败

蹒跚着,抖动着继续前行

 

它是个不称职的员工,却占用了

二百三十三个职位

 

瞧,它是个成功的艺术鉴赏家

可它却没能消化掉绝望灵魂

的苦难和挣扎

 

哦,看看那对永不分离的情人

再看看那永远不会消逝的赞美诗

每做出一个承诺

每写下一行字

都赢过了时间

In my poems, I always like to choose one object, image, or concept and explore its meaning to me through the words of poetry. I personified ‘Time’ as an opposer to mankind, as I feel the passage of time is the one thing that humans can never change. Throughout this poem, I also tried to capture a few qualities of time, such as its unpredictable and fickle nature. To me, poetry is much more about experimenting the possibilities and limits of language, and exploring and viewing the world through a more imaginative and unique lens, instead of expressing emotions.

 

My story with poetry could probably be traced back to the beginning of my memory. My father is a renowned Chinese contemporary poet, therefore ever since I was a child, I was exposed to the language and thoughts unique to poets. When I was three, my family and I moved to Dali, Yunnan Province, a dream-like place of mountains and lakes. My childhood was filled with nature, which most definitely influenced my way of imagination, creativity, and observation. Until now, almost all of my poems have imageries and inseparable links with nature.

  • The picturesque landscape of Dali

 

I began writing my first few poems just before graduating from elementary school. The newfound way to release imagination made me fond of poetry. As I was growing up, I gradually discovered (and I am still in the process of discovering and exploring) the charm of the language of poetry: it is original yet full of uncertainty, lively and at the same time full of music, which I think is what makes it so irreplaceable. Perhaps this is one main thing I like about poetry: its ability to complicate and distort language, but at the same time act as an advocator of ‘order’. It is an ornament of language, yet it also is at the core of language. Therefore, it is a daring experimenter.

 

Ever since I came to UWC, its education philosophy, environment, people, and diversity have given me a lot of new ideas and topics to explore. For example, I would often observe the similarities and differences of people in this diverse environment, and from that to explore and establish my own identity. I have also become more aware of the importance of environmental protection, and have developed a strong sense of empathy and compassion from being involved in community service projects. These new experiences gave me new inspirations for my poems. I have always been passionate about music, especially composition, and here, I was very lucky to have met a responsible and caring music teacher, who gave me a lot of guidance and encouragement. This has allowed the continuous improvement in my composition and expansion of my interest in music. There are a lot of links between poetry and music. The language of poetry has an infiltrating musicality in it, evident in every word, every syllable. As music is one of my other major hobbies, I am very often inspired by music.

 

Below are some more poems I submitted for the award:

Sub-title

Overthrow

1

In the gum of the sky bacteria flourished

For sweets a bit sourish,

Launch a series of attacks, restrikes, and counterstrikes

Ferociously gnawed through the string

That chained the sun in the sky, as it

Immovably hung above,

Bacteria twisted lapses of time

 

Then on edges of the sky they chewed out holes

Sky’s blood gushed out from cracks

Blood that had not been tasted before

Red, blue, and purple colored

 

Sun seized its chance and slipped into the holes

Luckily, its disappearance was able to cut short

The elongated daytime

 

2

A boa prepares for an assault

It aimed at its own tail, an attempt to once again swallow

The crocodile in its stomach

 

It stretches its tentative tongue, cautiously locating its enemy

The tail (of equal swiftness and alertness as it)

And the crocodile

 

It concludes that the enemy posed great threat

Hence came in the place the launching of plan N;

A series of attacks, restrikes, and counterstrikes

 

3

The ocean’s surface had always been in

A state of anarchy

With the throne continuously toppled

(Yet reconstructed the very next second)

 

Surging waves trampled on their kin

Repeatedly crushed their skulls

Until reaching the apex, and usurped the throne

At the very next second vanish completely

 

The world is absolutely ravenous

It does not even realize its own hunger 

Sub-title

反噬

1

天空的牙床生了许多蛀虫

为了糖果

它们的无畏地进攻、再攻、反攻

啃噬了天上拴着太阳的线

太阳吊在空中

时间被蛀虫扭曲

 

又在天边嚼出些窟窿

天空的鲜血从缝隙涌出

那些还没被舔过的血—红的、蓝的、紫的

 

太阳趁机滑入窟窿

这才把没有及时逝去的时间

补上

 

2

一条蟒蛇正准备着进攻

它把苗头对准了自己的尾巴,试图再次吞下

肚子里的鳄鱼。

 

它伸缩着舌头,小心地试探着敌方

它的尾巴(与它一般敏捷、警戒)

和那只鳄鱼

 

它断定敌人具有强烈的威胁性

于是,启动了N计划;反复的

进攻、再攻、反攻

 

3

大海的表层一直以来都处于

无政府状况

王位不断被推翻(却又在下一秒重建)

 

汹涌的海浪踩踏过同伴

重复压挤它们的头颅

直至达到顶端,篡得王位

下一刻却消失的无影无踪

 

世界是如此的饥饿

它自己都没意识到

This poem is based on the concept of being overthrown. From this starting point, I divided the poem into three parts, each set in a different context in nature, thus portraying altering states of ‘overthrow’. When I wrote this, what appeared in my mind was a lot of the unnecessary aggression and impatience around us and in society, due to human greed and desire, and how this would eventually lead to an overthrow.

Sub-title

Butterfly Specimen

 

A wing attempted to fly out of the universe

It fell onto the ground

And sank into a motionless whirlpool

Another thousand of them drowned consecutively

 

The antenna misplaced itself onto a hunter’s trap

It became immobile

But the trap was meant for rabbits,

Feral and untrained ones

 

The pair of eyes got captured from desertion

After a bloody fight in a losing war

It got pinned onto a fixed spot in time

 

The butterfly lived in its framed death

Forced to reconcile with its wing and antenna and eyes

Reassembled from scratch,

It is condemned by its ever-lasting delicacy

That is never damaged, nor perfected.

Sub-title

蝴蝶标本

 

 

一片翅膀试图飞出宇宙

却摔到了地上

被一个静止的漩涡所淹没

之后,又一千片翅膀片片溺于水中

 

触角不小心触到了猎人的捕兽夹

它动弹不得

但夹子要抓捕的是兔子,那些

野生,未驯的兔子

 

在一场宿命已定的血腥战斗中,

眼睛如逃兵被俘获

被钉入时间的固定点上

 

蝴蝶活在被框架的死亡中

它被迫与自生的翅膀,触角,眼睛和睦相处

经过革命般的重新组装,

它的精美处处诅咒着自生

永远无法损坏的精美外观,却永远不可能完美无瑕

I have always loved butterflies, but never been so fond of butterfly specimen. I’ve always thought the beauty of the insect had already died with its body. This kind of thinking about the relations between life, death, immortality, and nature with the butterfly specimen, led to the writing of this poem.