Iris Fan Xing is a poet and translator who is interested in language, place, and home. She recently returned to Perth from New York City and is currently working on translations for Giramondo. The following is from an interview with liminal magazine.
I grew up as an only child (like many people my age) in Mainland China. My family relocated to Guangzhou when I was in primary school, so I grew up under the huge influence of Cantonese culture (especially the pop culture from Hong Kong in the late 90s and early 2000s). The primary and secondary education I received were mandatory, rigid, and systematic in the political sense. My parents nurtured my interests in language and literature from when I was a child. I still remember having a braised pork bun and a bowl of plain congee and listening to cassettes of a children’s English learning program at home in the morning when I was in primary school. My earliest contact with poetry was through my mum reading classical Chinese poems to me. Although my parents believed in school education, they also gave me the freedom and liberty to find my own path as long as I passed my grades. I always did better in liberal arts than in maths and science at school. Their relaxed attitude encouraged me to enjoy spending more time in those subjects. My parents never said no to buying books for me. The best birthday present I’ve received was a set of The Complete Novels of Louis Cha from my dad when I was in high school.
In 2018, I moved to New York with my husband when he started his postgraduate studies. It took me quite a while to adjust to the life in this megacity (the biggest I’ve ever lived in so far), to the time difference, and to accept the fact of being so far away from both of our families and friends. But I’m always attracted to the ‘notion’ of New York and what it offers. It means the MET, Village Vanguard, Poetry Project at St. Mark’s, Anthology Film Archives, and the dwellings of many of my arts and culture icons. I’ll always remember the afternoon when we went to see Andrei Rublev at Walter Reade Theatre and saw Patti Smith sitting in a row by herself behind us.
Flying Islands Pocket Poet Publications
South of Words
Three books in one, South of Words makes the form of a round trip between various ports of call in China and Western Australia. The English and Chines texts meet in the title poem, at the centre of the book.