Yidan Han

  Contributing Editor:
  Kyle David Anderson

Xi Ni Er


Xi Ni’Er (希尼尔), also known as Chia Hwee Pheng, has won the NBDCS Book Awards (1990 & 1994) and the Singapore Literature Prize (2008). He was the recipient of the National Cultural Medallion in 2008 and the Southeast Asia Write Award in 2009. He has published 8 books,including The Stretched Credulity (poetry) and The Unbearable Heaviness of Life (mini-fiction). He is currently President of the Singapore Association of Writers.


Clarissa Oon

Clarissa Oon, Senior Political Correspondent of The Straits Times, Singapore. She is also a theatre critic and the author of Theatre Life!: A History of English-language Theatre in Singapore.


The Degenerate South

这河,历史告诉他应该倒流,以泥土的颜色 ——《加冷河》1986年 尾随一艘轮船的宿命 南中国海的季候风,将他 刮到马来半岛南端的 一个岛屿以南的河岸 落脚。在河上的木屋 栖息、应变、谋生 他瘦成河边的一株茅草 竟日,垂望水面 潮退的岸外偶有鳄踪 像是韩文公驱逐南来的族类 警慎、落寞、不遇 浮沉人世间,徒留一身 坚硬的身姿 国境之南,心境以北 无以通行的象形心情 结绳浮岛,能奢望回乡的 是端正的方块情感 断断续续的思念 多年以后,他选择终止流离 河中红树林丛生的沼泽地 形成我偶然的原乡。梦里 北方一条大江的回忆在萦绕 他刻意掩饰的乡愁,安放在 北回归线上一片纠葛的土壤 一片土壤的纠葛 我很早就读懂,大江东去的苍凉 在逐渐收缩的情感版图里,形成 赤道上的一脉苦瓜藤 卑微坚忍。苦,不言痛 如此消磨一生,在堕落的南方


This river, history told him it should have flowed backwards, back to the colour of the earth. —— "Kallang River", 1986 On the tail of a steamship's fate South China Sea monsoon hurtles him on towards the Malay Peninsula' s southernmost tip On an island's south river bank he sets foot. In a wooden hut on the river he rests, adapts, ekes out a living He becomes as emaciated as a reed perpetually drooping over the water surface gazing beyond the receding shore where the occasional crocodile lurks Like Han Wen Gong's* clansmen, exiled to the South Watchful, lonely, ill-starred A drifter among men, leaving behind a tough hide A nation in the south, but the heart lies north unable to form any coherent attachment to the island, yet the yearning for the home village is always in sharp relief, the waves of longing perfectly pitched Years later, he chose to end his wanderings a thicket of mangrove trees in the marshy river marked the spot of my accidental homeland. In dreams memories of the Great River of the North coil around the homesickness he takes pains to conceal, buried on disputed soil in the Tropic of Cancer The disputes of the soil I grasped from early on; the Great River's melancholic eastward flows across shrinking emotional terrain, had formed a single bittergourd vine on the equator lowly yet steadfast. Enduring suffering without complaint that life was slowly whittled away, in the degenerate South. *Han Yu (768-824), also known as Han Wen Gong, was a leading philosopher, statesman and poet of China's Tang Dynasty, and a venerated literary figure.

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