Wai-lim Yip, from 'Paris Dialogues': four poems after photos by Jonas Yip

[A commemoration here of two new books in English by Chinese poet Wai-lim Yip: Somewhere Between (National Taiwan University Press), from which this excerpt is taken, and Arrivals and Departures: Poems, Memoir, and Chronology (Musical Stone Publishing, Hong Kong), a selection of his original writings in English. My introduction to the latter volume can be found here on Poems and Poetics. His work a milestone of translingual poetry. (J.R.)]


empty park

empty chair


small eddies in the pond


ringing through the sky

to the empyrean








dark leaves

dark leaves

push and press

ranges and ranges

of rock

houses push

and press more rock

houses push and

press a million

dark eyes

gazing all upward

toward the eiffel spire



the moving clouds




a shaft of sunlight

cuts the room

in halves

giving darkness

a body

and prepares a stage

for a bottle

and two bowls

to assume

their graceful






pounding rains



spectra crowds gone




untarnished aura


an anonymous witness


N.B.  The source of these poems & photo-images – 13 of them presented as “dialogues” – is Paris: Dialogues + Meditations by Jonas Yip and Wai-lim Yip, published bilingually by Nanjing University Press in 2009  The full set of thirteen Dialogues is also posted at Jonas Yip’s "Paris: Dialogue" gallery: http://www.jonasyip.com/paris-dialogues.  The work is included as well in the recent Somewhere Between.


Jonas Yip is an award-winning photographer and musician based in the Los Angeles area, while readers of Poems and Poetics will likely be familiar with Wai-lim Yip as the author of Pound’s Cathay and of Chinese Poetry: Major Modes and Genres (University of California Press). A longtime resident of the United States, Wai-lim Yip has been active for over forty-five years as a bicultural poet, translator, critic, and theorist with special contribution to East-West comparative literature, aesthetics, and comparative poetics between China and America. In recent years he has been celebrated in China with exhibitions devoted to his archives and conferences devoted to his poetry, as well as publication of his Complete (Chinese) Works in nine thick volumes. Arrivals and Departures, published in Hong Kong, is the best presentation so far of his original poetry in English.