Xi Chuan is a Chinese poet, essayist and translator. Born in 1963 in Jiangsu province, he graduated from the English Department of Peking University in 1985. Previously a visiting adjunct professor at New York University (2007), and an Orion visiting artist at University of Victoria, Canada (2009), he is currently professor of Chinese literature at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. Xi Chuan has published nine collections of poems, including Depth and Shallowness (2006) and A Dream's Worth (2013), two books of essays and two books of critical writings. His awards include National Lu Xun Prize for Literature (2001), Cultural China—Person of the Decade (2001-2011) by Shanghai Oriental Morning Post. He was also one of the top ten winners of the 1999 Weimar International Essay Prize Contest, Germany. His work has been widely anthologized and translated and published in more than twenty countries. His book of poems in English translation Notes on the Mosquito: Xi Chuan /Selected Poems (tr. Lucas Klein) published by New Directions, New York, 2012, was awarded ALTA's 2013 Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize and was shortlisted for American 2013 Best Translated Book Award.
Pascale Petit is a UK poet. She was born in Paris, grew up in France and Wales and lives in Cornwall. She is of French/Welsh/Pakistani heritage. She has published six poetry collections. Her sixth collection Fauverie was shortlisted for the 2014 T S Eliot Prize. Five poems from the book won the 2013 Manchester Poetry Prize. Her fifth book What the Water Gave Me: Poems after Frida Kahlo was shortlisted for both the T S Eliot Prize and Wales Book of the Year, and was a Book of the Year in the Observer. She has had three collections chosen as Books of the Year in the Times Literary Supplement, Independent and Observer. She received a Cholmondeley Award in 2015.
Pillow creases on skin. The tiny feet of insects have left
their prints – poisonous bloodspots medicinally sucked out.
Skin – my silent surface. This skin of mine has never
experienced frenzied torture so it dreams of frenzied torture
and thus slips into history. Then grows a silent crop: hairs
without a sense of history.
Landscapes on skin. Maps with pins. A Nazi lampshade made of
human skin. English books bound from girls' breasts in
A leather sofa doesn't have the dead cow's soul. But each time
I get up from it I can't help mooing three times.
Consort Yang Yuhuan's skin touched flowers. Concubine Wang
Zhaojun's skin touched ice. I have never met these skins so
can only talk about them.
When I stare at my skin with its buried veins I also see your
skin in a cool summer but can't see your bones.
Shameless bones coated with graceful skin. What makes graceful
skin shameless as bones? Only cheeks get shy and embarrassed.
Skin lines under a magnifying glass. Skin's greyness in the
wardrobe mirror. Pockmarks, blackheads, freckles, goose bumps.
Skin only speaks to those who read fortunes.
My skin contains my sickness, happiness and my darkness, which
can't be illuminated by any light.
I have seven perpetual gates and temporary wounds. Sore skin and
dead skin without nerve tips, corpse-skin. It's said that ghosts
wander without skins. It's said that aliens think with their skins.
You approach me with your skin, or my skin can feel yours
shivering. I'm not sure whether you want to flay me and put my
skin on a sheep or a wolf.