Editor's Note

Mian Mian’s poems initially appear to draw inspiration from Imagism, but then take a trajectory described by Robert Bly. They enact “a long floating leap from the conscious to the unconscious and back again, a leap from the known part of the mind to the unknown part and back to the known.”

These cinematic movements, although surprising, make intuitive sense. In Liang Yujing’s lucid translation, her poetry effortlessly convinces with brevity and completeness. It can be eaten raw. Mian Mian’s youthful and piquant voice seems to say.

— Mandakini Pachauri
The Bombay Literary Magazine

Translator's Note

The power of Mian Mian’s narrative lies not in the complex vocabulary or syntax, but rather in the nuances of her tone and the subtlety of the emotions her words convey. Her language is generally simple and straightforward, yet it takes a translator’s efforts to grasp her real intention and rebuild an expression with the equivalent effect in English, particularly of tone.

— Liang Yujing
The Bombay Literary Magazine

A Kind of Equanimity


The Buddha’s body stands in the flames of war.

The Buddha’s head sleeps in the soil,

revealing half of his face.

The trace of faded gold lacquer

extends like mildew to his cheek.

There’s a cleft across his lips,

another across his left eye and brow ridge.

It’s fascinating.

What force on earth

is trying its best to destroy him?

A battlefield, rather than a temple,

seems the better home for a Buddha statue.

His head lies in the soil just that way

with an eye wide open.





A woman sat there, facing the sea.

With a slim knife, she tried once and again

to find a seam to insert the blade.


He said in my ear,

The harder the shell of an animal is,

the better it tastes.


As the woman slightly raised her hand,

a small piece of warm, moist meat

leaped into her basin in the sunlight.


He drew close and gently said,

Just like your heart.


My heart,

together with many other hearts,

was soaked in water, still throbbing,

having lost even the most hidden grit.


Then he added,

It can be eaten raw.





The roofs outside are covered in snow.

Close to me, you are sleeping soundly.

Between your brows lies a deep, vertical wrinkle,

as sharp as a knife cut.


Not the result of anxiety,

such a wrinkle

is the longtime waterfall

running from your invisible interior skull.

After twists and turns, it arrives, and retreats.

A sudden judgment

leads to its sudden fall.


All that is lost and won,

it’s everything about you.

Resting in my arms,

it, now, doesn’t make any sound.



Persian Chrysanthemum


Together, we have enjoyed various flowers

What attracts me most is the Gesang flower.

You told me

it is called the Gesang flower in Tibet

but the Persian chrysanthemum in Xinjiang.

In summer,

they ardently bloom

and fervently wither.

The sun makes them curl.

I love the way they bloom

and wither at once,

but often I’m confused as to

whether this curled shape is a sign of blooming

or withering away.

What I want to tell you is:

whether they are blooming

or withering,

they are all


little kisses.



Image credits: unknown copyright owner. Download source: creativepilgrimage.com.

The flower shown here isn’t a Persian Chrysanthemum. But flowers have an independent secret taxonomy in which their private names are written in an alphabet of fragrances, colours and urgencies.

Author | MIAN MIAN

Mian Mian 面面, born in 1994, holds a BA from Beijing Film Academy and an MA from Goldsmiths, University of London. Currently based in Beijing, she works as a literary editor at Xiron Books, China’s largest private-owned publishing company.

Translator | LIANG YUJING

Liang Yujing holds a PhD in Chinese from Victoria University of Wellington and is currently a lecturer at Hunan University of Technology and Business, China. His books of translation include Zero Distance: New Poetry from China (Tinfish Press, 2017) and Dai Weina’s Loving You at the Speed of a Snail Travelling Around the World (Cold Hub Press, 2019). He is also the Chinese translator of Kim Addonizio’s What Is This Thing Called Love (Xiron Books, 2020).

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