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Syndic Literary Journal

Encountering Fog on Mount Jiuhua

Written by Li Li

Translated from the Chinese by Jami Proctor Xu

Narrated by Jami Proctor Xu


Beyond ten meters, you can’t see the scenery you wish to see.
You’re in the fog. Burning incense rings,
casting the world into a gold embodied image.
The future: kneels, kowtows.
Cries for help surge up. Someone who doesn’t believe in Buddha
folds his hands, and another—a monk—
smiles with delight, counting the paper money crowded together.
We move back and forth between these two,
sometimes beside the gold statue, sometimes beside the monk.
Beyond this is fog: The fog says, “To have is to be without!”


Li Li is a poet and translator.  He was born in 1961 in Shanghai.  He majored in Swedish at the Beijing Foreign Languages University, and he moved to Sweden in 1988.  From 1988 to 1992, he studied contemporary Swedish Literature at Stockholm University.  He has published six poetry collections in Swedish, two collections in Chinese, and received a number of poetry awards.  He has also published translations of both Northern European and Chinese poets, including the complete works of 2011 Nobel Prize Winner for Literature Tomas Tranströmer.  Five of his short films were shown on Swedish television.
Jami Proctor Xu is a bilingual poet and translator. She is the recipient of a Zhujiang Poetry Award and a First Readers Poetry Award. Her translations of Song Lin’s collection, Sunday Sparrows (Zephyr, 2020), received the Northern California Book Award for Poetry in Translation.


Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
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