As part of our collaborative translation process, translator Dave Haysom explained that in Chinese, the ‘measure word’ qualifies a noun, rather like a collective noun in English: a murder of crows, a gaggle of geese. It could also be something like a loaf of bread, or a stick of gum. ‘Untitled’ by Rong Yu pulls our attention into details in a playful way: ‘See… sometimes I do pay attention to technical terms.’ The poet almost gets lost in details, but not quite: sometimes there is no deep meaning and the drawer is simply closed. We enjoyed experimenting with tenses and repetitions in the poem as we worked on it in English, keeping to its conversational tone and its leaps from one image to the next. The poem ends with a flourish, which, although it might carry a playful sexual undertone in English, in Chinese simply glories in the name of a flower!

Miriam Nash, Workshop Facilitator