Yao Feng #15

Xing Hua Temple

why is it the Buddha –
far from the madding crowd on the hill –
sits lounges an air of serenity, over a lotus throne
while Jesus has his blood shed
on a Good Friday cross?
I'll go upstairs with you
and we'll see the gilt-decked Buddha
projecting dazzling gold
in a world of fireworks
you served the Buddha
with incense and prayer
I didn't stoop
to words of long life or good luck
one always ends up hitting the wall
Bodishattvas climb down at last
the rail on which she leans overlooks
inequalities among the world's mountains

(translated by Kit Kelen)


Choir Solo

Part 9 of Yao Feng’s ‘Cape Verde Fragments’

being surrounded by the sea is a destiny 

it will never turn around 

it stands on the reefs, commanding you to sing

you don’t have much 

but singing makes you wealthy 

because of song 

birds fly out from your throat

because of singing

flowers come up through the stones 

(translated by Kit Kelen and Fei Chen)

Nicholafei Chen 陳飛:物語獵人

In 2015 Nicholafei Chen was undertaking a Masters degree in creative writing at Macau University. He was also providing a range of translation services. Born and raised in Guizhou, Chen is a story hunter, a traveler, a graphic designer, a photographer and, most recently, a cultivator of succulent plants. This is all despite having been told by a fortune teller that he would be a diplomat. in 2015 Fei was a Resident Tutor at Henry Fok Pearl Jubilee Residential College in the University of Macau. (His biography will be updated as more information comes to light.)

Flying Islands Pocket Poet Publications

A River Sings Tales of the Village

Iris Fan Xing 樊星:詞語的南方

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.

Links: www.liminalmag.com/interviews/iris-fan-xing

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.

Yao Feng 姚風:在合唱中獨唱

Beijing-born poet Yao Feng (姚风) has lived in Macau for many years, and is currently a professor of Portuguese literature at the University of Macau. His poems have been published in many Chinese and Portuguese literary magazines, in both languages, and sometimes bilingually. He is a translator and founding editor of the magazine Chinese and Western Poetry, and was awarded the prestigious Rougang Poetry Prize in 2005.

Flying Islands Pocket Poet Publications

Choir Solo

trans Fei Chen, Kit Kelen

Great Wall Capricio and Other Poems

Translators: 客遠文 Kit Kelen, 管婷婷 Karen Kun, 房霞 Fang Xia

Toby Fitch

Toby Fitch is an Australian poet, editor, essayist and teacher. He is the current poetry editor of Overland and a sessional academic in creative writing at the University of Sydney. His six books of poetry include Where Only the Sky had Hung Before and Object Permanence: Selected Calligrammes, while his seventh, Sydney Spleen, is forthcoming with Giramondo Publishing in July 2021. He has lived in Sydney on unceded Gadigal land since the age of 3 but is shortly relocating to Newcastle and Awabakal land.

Links: tobyfitch.net

Flying Islands Pocket Poet Publications

 Ill Lit Pop

In Australian National Library

LL LIT POP pirates lines from poetry, TV and pop music and performs them on some island in the digital swamplands. From ‘bad lip readings’ of canonical poems to melodramatic collages of Twin Peaks scripts and skewed mashups of pop lyrics, these anti-pop poems co-opt subjectivity and copyright, twisting the confected vagaries of pop culture into critical and playful new confections.

Susan Fealy

Susan Fealy is a Melbourne-based poet, reviewer and clinical psychologist.  Her poems have been published in Australian journals and anthologies including Best Australian Poems 200920102013 and 2017. Others appear in the United States, India and Sweden. Among awards for her poetry are the NSW Society of Women Writers National Poetry Prize and the Henry Kendall Poetry Award. Her first collection, Flute of Milk (UWAP) won the 2017 Wesley Michel Wright Prize.

Flying Islands Pocket Poet Publications

The Earthing of Rain

More information about The Earthing of Rain to come.

translation Iris Fan Xing

Irina Fralova

Irina Frolova

Far and Wild is Irina Frolova’s first collection of poetry. It speaks to the experience of immigration and a search for belonging. It draws on fairy-tales and explores archetypes through cultural and feminist lenses.

 Irina Frolova was born in Moscow in 1981, in the former Soviet Union. She moved to Australia in 2003, and now lives on the Awabakal land in NSW with her three children and two fur babies. Irina has a degree in philology from Moscow City Pedagogical University, and is currently studying psychology at Deakin University. Her work has appeared in Not Very Quiet, Australian Poetry Collaboration, Baby Teeth Journal, Rochford Street Review, The Blue Nib, and The Australian Multilingual Writing Project, as well as various anthologies. Irina is a regular at Newcastle Poetry at the Pub where she was a featured poet in January, 2019.

Links: www.facebook.com/irinafrolovapoet/

Flying Islands Pocket Poet Publications


Far and Wild

This book speaks to the experience of immigration and a search for belonging. It explores the nature of language as performative of place and consciousness, and raises the question of gendered cultural othering: what is it like to navigate Russian identity as a woman in a western country? It examines the stereotype of a Russian bride, who is seen as both submissive and a threat.

Far and Wild looks at archetypes through cultural and feminist lenses.

common or garden poets #5 – Jill McKeowen inviting Irina Frolova


suburban garden song

for Irina Frolova

…songs that save us…

…the slow luscious note of gardenias

Kathryn Fry, ‘Impromptu’


the koel song has arrived, rolling

from the leafy night

as wattle bird cracks the dawn

step out

to the warming world, crimson

lanterns of bottlebrush lit

in a thousand filaments


overnight the young orb

has hung its web, renewal glistening

from awning to gardenia     

on the cusp

of summer, soft as crepe, expiring

waves of perfume

to November’s purple sky

they’ll melt in time to creamy yellow

burn to bronze and fall

like cotton sheets on summer skin

the garden is for being

as we are, a daily practice

not quite finished, and when I’m gone

no-one will know the details


how I sit in the dirt pulling weeds

or digging my fingers in

with the planting of good ideas

                                        the garden guides us

through our small mortality

adapting and enduring, says

this is how it feels to be alive


like every plant, the human body’s

impulse is to heal while moving

yet toward its end


a blue-tongue lizard slides through

the litter of gardenia leaves

and blueberry lily knots


at dusk, vermillion cloud vibrates

in each geranium petal disappearing

to inevitable night  

the roots of life

weave with worms and detritus

and insects sing the white moon

for summer’s returning arc


Common or Garden Poets #3 – Gail Hennessy inviting Kathryn Fry


Our Eclectic Garden

for Kathryn Fry

                                                                           Under the curtaining wisteria

                                                                           who will take banana peel

                                                                           to the orchids? Who will shiver the dew

                                                                          over the freesias and the thryptomene?

                                                                          Jean Kent, ‘In My Mother’s Garden’


for every house called home

there is a frame

with you the constant gardener


plants are portals into the past

like illustrations from a Book of Hours


in Spring

bulbs corms and tubers

push through the earth

purloined cuttings take on new life


my grandmother’s ivory freesias

heavy the air with the smell of childhood

my mother’s blood red dahlia petals

open as big as proverbial dinner plates

tree ferns from my brother

uncoil to feather the sky

your mother’s asparagus fern flows against

your ceramic I named ‘Midnight in the Garden of Good’


pink azaleas paint

the garden facing the street

to a postcard memory from our student days

Utrillo’s Les Maison Roses


in the beginning

friends from Canberra arrived

their car filled

with root balled camellias

to fill the courtyard in winter

with leaf gloss and flower


sometimes I change the names

Commander Mulroy becomes Sawada’s Dream

identical camellias white edging to pink

and who wouldn’t be tempted

to swap the military for romance?



when the nursery was out of stock

Soul Sister became a substitute Julia’s Rose

the name I want to remember her by


it’s a league of nations

Chinese Jasmine a pillar of grounded stars

climbs skyward around a verandah post

Callistemon rubs shoulders with Nandina Domestica


the front door key waits

for family and friends

under the stone god from Bali

its plinth a home for slaters and worms


tiger worms recycle kitchen scraps

you shovel ash from the hearth

I offer coffee grounds to the hydrangeas


our Labrador composts

under a camellia holding memories

of his faithful welcome home

a lap of honour circling the clothesline


fish laze the pond

in circles of gold

frogs surface to deafen the evenings


today we watch the bowerbird

decorating his edifice

squawk and hop

black sheen on the wing

meticulous arranger of blue

clothespegs milk container tops


over the back fence

a bushland reserve houses

bandicoots and water dragons

possums blue tongues and owls

the ironic laughter of kookaburras


our place in the connectedness of things.



Gail Hennessy