Yan Li – Injustice

Yan Li LEP&W V3 Dec 2022

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Three December 2022.

Injustice, poem by Yan Li.

Translated from Chinese by Anna Yin.

Asking painting by Yan Li
Asking Heaven, painting by Yan Li


People all are against wars
Wars are wrongly criticized
They cry: There would be no continuing wars
if there is no genetic expansion of
human greed for power

Soldiers are wrongly criticized
Both sides are trapped
left to the hard-hitting choice
of “live or die”
and those who surrender do not necessarily survive

Weapons are also very wrongly criticized
If not for the purported high-tech inventions
many minerals would still quietly be buried
enjoying their tranquil sleep

The wronged
truly have great difficulty vindicating themselves

What is Insight

Do not believe that it is over
after implanting a high-sounding insight
into others’ heads
because in each head there is
a back entrance prepared for profit
So you must mold the contemporary insight
as privately-fashioned furniture
and move it in soundlessly through the back door

Short poems

Civilization is a phenomenon of acquired education —
the faked ones are difficult to distinguish.

The education in the mother’s womb:
Starting with sperms’ hunting tactics —
is very enlightening

Sunflowers all over the hills
are so much like a united people,
yet each sunflower just skins its own seed.

Many people pay excessive attention to their self-image;
even when sleeping they shake themselves awake
to groom here and there then return to their dream.

Fists are nothing,
since more are knocked out by breasts.

Speaking of the Tang Dynasty,
I heard such a sigh:
If electricity hadn’t been invented,
lanterns could have been super-splendid.

To bind the blue sky on the flagpole
is indeed too showy.
Letters do not have to
fulfill the duty of a clean sky.

I dreamed of living a life of luxury,
then my dream became luxurious…
But my life didn’t.

With regard to contamination,
there were no more blank papers.
We all keep writing on
what has been written.

Pillows are designed for each individual
and there isn’t one
bed existing for the community to sleep on.

My dream is that simple —
don’t wake up my dream!

The pleasure of walking on the spot is no pressure
from velocity.

Although civilization has never been weaned,
among every generation,
many people are still allergic to breasts.

The body is the title deed of life.
There is no such thing as a proletarian.

As long as one gets rid of jealousy and hatred,
one will certainly decrease or increase
several kilograms of tension and relaxation.

To avoid conversations with viruses,
language in the mask
has promoted self-talk in the inner circle.

© Yan Li

Yan Li (poet and artist) was born in Beijing in 1954. He started writing poetry in 1973 and painting in 1979. He was a member of the pioneering art group “Star Painting Club” and the literary group “Today” in Beijing in 1979, and held the first solo exhibition of pioneering art in China in 1984. In 1987, he founded the poetry journal “First Line New York” (which ceased publication in 2000) and resumed publication in New York in June 2020, where he continues to serve as editor-in-chief. He is the president of the Overseas Chinese Writers’ Association.

Anna Yin was Mississauga’s Inaugural Poet Laureate (2015-17) and has authored five poetry collections and one collection of translations:  Mirrors and Windows (Guernica Editions 2021). Anna won the 2005 Ted Plantos Memorial Award, two MARTYs, two scholarships from USA and grants from Ontario Arts Council and Canadian Arts Council. Her poems/translations have appeared at Queen’s Quarterly, ARC Poetry, New York Times, China Daily, CBC Radio, Literary Review of Canada etc. She has designed and instructed Poetry Alive with multimedia since 2011.  She read on Parliament Hill, at Austin International Poetry Festival, Edmonton Poetry Festival and universities in China, Canada and USA etc. More on her website: https://www.annapoetry.com/

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