Kaleidoscope: Ethnic Chinese writers (2) No Water Cleaner than Tears

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“I was born on Yunnan province’s high, red earth plateau, where the Little Liang Mountains stretch far into the north western distance. Here, the pounding Jinsha river thunders through gorges, the Yulong Snow Mountain pierces heaven, and here also is beautiful Lugu Lake, whose waters stir deep currents in all those who look on her.”This poet’s People is a small one; the Pumi ethnicity numbers only around thirty thousand people in total. His home is a village named Guoliu, which nestles beneath Mount Sibujiong in the Little Liang Mountain range, at the edge of Lugu Lake. His father drives horse caravans along the ancient ‘Tea Horse Road’, a trade route between horse-rich Tibet and Yunnan’s tea-producing jungle regions. The poet introduces his mother as the Queen of Guoliu village, a lady feted for her ability to sing more Pumi folk-songs than there are stars in the sky. Luruo says he is a completely ordinary child of his land, just one among many others like him. He also calls himself a child of fortune – for him, it is a great blessing to make a livelihoods composing verse in his native place. The fount of his good fortune is the ethereal vitality of the land that he so loves, and which has given him life, and poems.Yunnan poet Luruo Diji writes in beautifully arranged Mandarin Chinese, but his poetry has its source on the distant periphery of the Chinese cultural world; his poems take form in the red earth of the high plateau, in the lofty borderlands of southwest China, a region moulded by unrestrained acts of nature. His People, the Pumi ethnic minority, are long-time residents of a unique natural landscape bordering both th e Himalaya Mountains and deep sub-tropical jungles, home to giant snow-mountains and steep gorges, where the upper reaches of the Yangzi River rage and thunder. Many of the poems in this book take place among these great natural formations, dipping in and out of stories of the people that live there, the impressions they left on the land for a moment.Luruo often presents his poems as material pieces of his homeland, the fine earth crumblings of the land’s inspiration passed through his hands, laid on the page. This collection is an emotional tribute to one of China’s most stunning wildernesses, by one of its children.

About Author

Luruo Diji is a writer of the Pumi ethnicity. He hails from Ninglang county in Yunnan province, where he was born in 1967. His prizes and awards include: the Jun Ma prize for literature by ethnic minority writers, the People’s Literature magazine prize for outstanding poetry, the prize for Chinese language poetry in its inaugural year, and the nomination prize for poets at the third session of the annual Grand prize for Chinese Literature and Media, among others.

Table of Contents
Part One—Songs from the Little Liang Mountains
The Little Liang Mountains Are Little 3
Choices 5
A Village That Won’t Grow Up 7
Lady Peaks 8
Blues That Won’t Blow Away 9
The River That Runs By Me 10
A Flock of Sheep Walk Through a County Town 11
The Year 1958 12
Making My Intentions Clear 13
Sky of Yunnan 14
Cold Blows the Wind 15
Birds in the Snowfield 16
A Poem from the Snowfield 18
Eagle 19
Watching the Sun Falls Down the Mountains 21
The Birchleaf Pear Tree 23
Birds of My Heart 25
Language of the Mountains 26
Wood Ear Mushrooms 29
The Beast Within 30
Conversation About a Dead Man 32
Light 34
Day 36
Wolf 37
Cuckoo 38
A Crow I Once Saw 40
Piccolo 42
Bachelor Town 45
The Sea on Its Back 47
River 48
Sieves 49
Broken Chapters 50
Over Distant Hills 52
Wood 54
Meeting on the Road 55
Saya Temple 57
Magpie 59
Short Songs 60
Snows of Mount Xuebang 61
Three River Gateways 63
No Water Cleaner Than Tears 65
I Do Not Know 67
The Yila Grasslands 68
The Meri Snow Mountains 70
A Potato Story 71
Fresh Flowers Bloom 73
An Ah-ma of the Yi People 75
Nothing Cleaner Than This 77
Holy Sibu-Jiong Mountain 78
Guoliu 80
Lightning Strike 82
Beggar 83
Blacker Than Night 86
Pig’s Trough Becomes a Boat 87
Crops on the Shore of Lake Lugu 89
Person Behind the Clouds 91
Home of the Immortals 93
The Question of the Great Sichuan Earthquake 95
Last Lesson 96
Asphyxiation 97
For Yang Guoqing 98
Ali Mountains — Sun and Moon Lake 100
In One of the World’s High Places 101
I Can’t Even Imagine 105
Angry Sea 106
Crow Pierces the Night 108
Shepherd in the Metropolis 109
Part Two—Loves of Lugu Lake
Love Songs from Lake Lugu 113
Walking Through Wedlock 117
Wind at My Side 118
Birthday Gift 120
A Sigh Is Heaved 122
Orchid 124
For Orchid 125
Bodhisattva in My Heart 129
Untitled 130
Snow 131
Lugu Lake 132
Other Kinds of Love 136
Speech 137
Cherry 138
I’ve Missed You Till My Heart’s Emptied All Out 140
Mountains of Joy 141
Long and Short 143
For My Dear Wife 144
Star-draped Moon-studded Woman 146
Missing You from Faraway 148
One Sunflower-lined Road 150
The Only Bone 151
The Horse of My Heart 152
Moon in the Crook of My Arm 153
River with No Name 155
Where from This Peace 156
Listen to the River 157
Some Unspecified Night 158
For a Far-travelling Friend of Mine 160
There’s Someone I’m Missing 161
Petals Bloomed of Leaves — Also Known as Longing 162
I always Was Too Impatient to Wait 163
Snow Peaks Fly Hither 164
Sample Pages Preview
The Little Liang Mountains Are Little

The Little Liang Mountains
Are little
Just about as big as my eyes
I close my eyes
And the sky above darkens
The Little Liang Mountains
Are little
Just about as big as my voice
Exactly the right size
For my words to traverse it
And respond to my mother’s calls
The Little Liang Mountains
Are little
Just as small as a needle’s eye
My poems often cross them
Mending my mother’s clothes
The Little Liang Mountains
Are little
Just about as big as my thumb
When I’m away
I always hold it out
On a level
With other people’s eyes

A Village That Won’t Grow Up

Growing up is for children
When old people grow up
They get even older
Villages aren’t made to grow up
That piece of land
That sliver of river
That handful of houses
Those people
Their lives and their deaths
Some villagers walk out
Of the village
And never come back
They keep the village
In their eyes
An ache in their heart
But most people grow roots
That last their whole life
And never once leave
Until death takes them
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Kaleidoscope: Ethnic Chinese writers (2) No Water Cleaner than Tears