from Iris Fan Xing’s “South of Words”

the sea calls me

on a day like this 
a cool glass of beer calls me 
to sit on the beach at sunset 
feeling the waves in my head
rocking with the sea 
a movement 
bringing me back 
to my mother’s womb
when she walked up the hill
her steps carrying both of us 

all seems faraway 
nineteen fifty-seven
and nineteen eighty-five
I see her only in winter now 
wake up in the middle of the night 
hearing her snore in the room 
next to mine 
when we reached the dam 
after she marked down the water level 
I breathed 
then that contained river 
replied with a ripple 
from its dark 

from Iris Fan Xing’s “South of Words” Read More »

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.

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Xia Fang

Xia Fang is a bilingual poet and translator. She has published two collections of translated poems, and has since begun writing her own poetry. Her poems have appeared in The Postcolonial Text, Mascara, Mānoa, Marathon, and two online writing projects: Project 365+1 and Project 52. Her early written work was influenced by new life experiences, including relocating to Macao where she completed her PhD in literary studies in 2019. She has since moved to Mainland China and is currently a Lecturer at the College of International Studies, University of Yangzhou.

Here are two poems and their Chinese counterparts selected from her poetry collection A View of the Sky Tunnel(Flying Islands 2017)


what I like about the underground

is its urbanization

what I like about urbanization

is the free entry we get to the museum

what I like about museums is their all-inclusive greatness

what I like about greatness is the ant-like collectivism

what I like about collectivism

is the way people rush to a destination

under ground

in the prime of its life– a Macao portrait

the devil’s ivy potted —

bright green foliage

climbs a pale green wall

the rusty phonograph

struggles remembering

yesterday’s songs

the rocking chair tells

five centuries’ stories

the wind sweeps over

a pond of pink lotuses

(eternal beauties to the Portuguese

who sojourned here)

the teenagers sit by a marble railing

the photographer waits, with utmost patience

for the perfect moment to take

something in black and white





























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