Sophy Chen’s poetry comments by USA Poet and Critics, Daniel J. Brick
This is a Poem of Despair. It is also a Poem of Grief. It was motivated perhaps by a desperate hope that the heritage of human culture embodied in poetry can explain terrorism, and offer an understanding of why it exists. Many of us resorted to the internet on that fateful night to seek information but also to connect to like-minded people to reassure our hearts all was not lost. This poet’s experience was especially traumatic, as she knew it would be. The mismatch between what she hoped to find and what is actually available deepened her grief. Her futile search lasted for three days during which she sacrificed her time, her comfort and her sleep.
It is important to note: At no time does the poet see herself as an exceptional individual; her poetry may indeed be exceptional, but in her being she is simply one among many, just like the victims. She uses a variety of metaphors to describe the nature of her search. For example, the “entangled web,” a “steaming pan,” “illusory screen,” but the most resonant is the “labyrinthine depths.” But instead of encountering a murderous beast, she finds only darkness. And confusion. Unlike the ancient myth, there is no decisive victory over the beast confined to the labyrinth. In our world the beast is terrorism, and it is loose in the world. The poet’s conclusion has been signaled in the title and in the first line, but she reiterates it with a slight intensification in her last lines.
Sometimes a poem has its own direction and subtly slips out of the poet’s conscious control. The poet herself may discover this hidden agenda upon re-reading. My personal feeling is that the intensity and completeness of this poet’s work belie her conclusion that POETRY IS NOTHING. Furthermore, it is her effort in writing this poem that convinces me her closing statement is premature. Her poem is a frail Ariadne’s Thread that leads the poet, her readers and all other people of good will out of the dark labyrinth of a world victimized by terrorism into the bright upper world where people band together and affirm their humane values
(Daniel J. Brick)
2015-12-29 蘇菲英譯漢 中國 廣州
Sophy Chen, China
Faced with Terrorism, Poetry Is Nothings’ Nothing
After being online for 24 hours, searching all of the search engines,
Trying all of the key words, in all the entangled web of the internet,
I found not the slightest trace of you.
After being online for 48 hours, like a cat on a hot tin roof,
Again and again, slaving over a steaming pan,
In order to better see you in your true colours, and to let you hear me crying,
I still found not the slightest trace of you.
After being online 72 hours, I, like a moth to a flame,
Again and again, trying to go beyond the illusory screen images
In order to show off my best dancing in front of you
And to let you see my final moment as I crash and burn.
I’ve searched the whole earth, following your clues
And from the labyrinthine depths of the internet,
I got a glimpse of your few, brief words —
Faced with terrorism, poetry is pale and powerless,
Faced with terrorism, poetry is nothing,
I’ve searched the whole universe, researching your origin and your end,
And at its extent, I got a glimpse of the original code you left behind —
Faced with terrorism, poetry is powerless’ powerlessness,
Faced with terrorism, poetry is nothings’ nothingness.
2015-11-23, Causeway Bay Harbour View Hotel, Hong Kong
Selected from POETRY AGAINST TERROR’