An Instant of Immortality Primer

Zang Di
Translated from the Chinese by Eleanor Goodman

In the remains of reason I am awarethat the final glance won'tvanish in an ocean's cold indifference. Returning to reality,the borders are blurry. Thankfully time's cavernsward off time's alterations,still deep and silent within life's secrets;dandelions, purslane, moongrass,the shadows of grapevines and hawthornspreserve the sequence of the caverns' entrances—I enter from this side, and the dark is the direction of darknessas though in the heaviness of lossthe dark also offers the benevolence of darkness;you enter from that side, that gradually shorteningand for me ever unnamable distance;separated by life and death, you and Ifumble about, even more stubborn than darkness,and so can still unite in an embrace—as though with a bit of effort, an instant of immortalitywill accede to my hand holdingthat little shovel you once used.

Feature Date


Selected By

Share This Poem

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

Print This Poem

Share on print

Zang Di was born in 1964 in Beijing, and received his Ph.D. from Peking University. He is the celebrated author of many books of poetry, including most recently The Simplest Human Movements Primer, Emotional Education Primer, The Association of Boiling, and The Intense Trust Series. He has been featured at international festivals including the Rotterdam Poetry Festival and the Princeton Poetry Festival, and has received numerous awards for both his poetry and his poetry criticism. He was named one of China’s Ten Most Outstanding Young Poets in 2005, and was honored with the distinguished Yangtze River Poetry Prize in 2017. He is currently a professor in the Chinese Department at Peking University, as well as a researcher at the PKU Chinese Poetry Research Center.

Eleanor Goodman’s first collection of poetry, Nine Dragon Island (Enclave/Zephyr, 2016), was a finalist for the Drunken Boat First Book Prize. Her translation of Something Crosses My Mind: Selected Poems of Wang Xiaoni (Zephyr, 2014) was the winner of the 2015 Lucien Stryk Prize, the recipient of a PEN/Heim Translation Grant, and shortlisted for the International Griffin Prize. She is also the translator of the anthology Iron Moon: Chinese Worker Poetry (White Pine, 2017), longlisted for the Best Translated Book Award, The Roots of Wisdom: Poems by Zang Di (Zephyr, 2017), awarded the 2020 Patrick D. Hanan Book Prize, and Days When I Hide My Corpse in a Cardboard Box: Poems of Natalia Chan (Zephyr, 2018), shortlisted for the 2019 Lucien Stryk Prize. She is a Research Associate at the Harvard University Fairbank Center.

Issue Seven

Bennington, Vermont

Bennington College

Michael Dumanis

Managing Editor
Katrina Turner

Bennington Review is a national biannual print journal of innovative, intelligent, and moving poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and film writing, housed at Bennington College.

Fifty years after its original founding and thirty years after its last issue, in 1985, Bennington Review has resumed publication, with poet Michael Dumanis as Editor.

We intend to reinforce the value of the bound print journal as an intimate, curated cultural space in which a reader can encounter and experience new work with a degree of immersion not wholly possible through other media. We hope to bring together writing that is as playful as it is probing, that simultaneously makes lasting intellectual and emotional connections with a reader. Bennington Review aims to contribute distinctive style and substance to the national literary conversation through publishing sharp, unexpected, original poetry and prose from a geographically broad and culturally rich spectrum of prominent, up-and-coming, and new voices.

Poetry Daily Depends on You

With your support, we make reading the best contemporary poetry a treasured daily experience. Consider a contribution today.