October 15, 2012

Shanghai 1937


Shanghai, 1937
by Shelly Bryant

for Emily Hahn and Shao Xunmei

we used to be so happy
and so we were
              until I stopped using
while you soared over poppy fields
              oblivious of the invasion forces
              even as you wove amongst them
I was left grounded
              holding the certification
              that made me your sober concubine
with bombs falling all around me

* * *

Shelly Bryant divides her year between Shanghai and Singapore, working as a teacher, writer, researcher, and translator. She is the author of three volumes of poetry, Cyborg Chimera, Under the Ash, and Voices of the Elders, and pair of travel guides. Her most recent projects include writing an updated guide to the city of Shanghai for Urbanatomy and translating Sheng Keyi's novel 《北妹》 (Northern Girls) for Penguin Books.

Shelly's poetry has appeared in journals, magazines, and websites around the world, as well as in several art exhibitions, including dark 'til dawn, Things Disappear, and Studio White • Exhibition 2011. You can visit her website at shellybryant.com

Where do you get the ideas for your poems?

Ideas for poems can come from anywhere, whether it be reading, watching a movie/play/performance, or just observing and listening to what is going on around you. Ideas for my poems have come from all of these places, along with many others. I believe that one of the biggest tasks of a poet is to continue to observe everything, and to think about everything, because poems are often hidden in places where we might least expect them.