Nanjing International Writers Residency 2022

Dec 19, 2023

Nanjing International Writers Residency 2022

2022 marks the fourth year after Nanjing’s designation, and the fourth year that Nanjing has initiated the Nanjing International Writers Residency programme. As the only City of Literature in China, the programme also served as a significant media for international communication on literature.

Nanjing International Writers Residency 2022

The Residency programmes are one of the most popular and welcomed cross-cultural communication projects among all the cities of Literature, 34 out of which have taken the Residencies as their regular projects.

Nanjing International Writers Residency 2022

“We have chosen 6 writers in residency out of 63 applications from 24 Cities of Literature, among which Reykjavik (Iceland), Angouleme (France), Dublin (Ireland Republic), Norwich and Manchester (UK) for the first time recommended their local writers”, According to Ms. Lilas YUAN, the Unesco focal point of Nanjing, “this year’s applicants are increased by 30%, half of the applicants has a doctoral degree in literature, some are best-seller authors, some are winners of literary awards, some with movie or drama adaptations. What worth mentioning is Munir, the previous Spanish writer in residency is currently teaching in Beijing University, in his interview, he said it was the residency that gave him the first impression of China. I hope the Residency can be a harbour for local and international writers, a place where they can learn from each other, share, and achieve.

Nanjing International Writers Residency 2022

The theme of the Residency this year is Rivers and Literature, and after a month of their residency experience, the writers in residency have created brilliant works, from which the extracts are for you to enjoy.

Big Radish
Nanjing International Writers Residency 2022

by Naomi Wood (Norwich, UK)

Nanjing International Writers Residency 2022

After six months of breastfeeding the baby was now at nursery, and she had gone back to work, walking every day from the day-care centre to the office on the riverbank.

From all reports, the baby was doing very well. His appetite was big, and he was getting very fat. The nursery workers kept on ordering more boxes of formula.

At first she was happy at work, after the long days spent feeding the baby, but then it grew boring. She worked in a marketing firm and the copywriting jobs were low-level and monotonous: mailouts, competition copy, HR manuals.

Soon she started skipping work. She’d drop the baby at day-care and tell her boss the baby was ill. Or the nursery was shut; the ground floor flooded. Or she had her cramps – this wasn’t untrue – now that her period had restarted. Her boss was a mother too. She felt a little bad lying to her, but mostly she felt excited, at the boldness of her deception.

On the days she skipped work she walked along the toll path in the opposite direction – she couldn’t go home, because her husband worked from home, and she couldn’t go to town, because then she’d spend money, and all their money went to the nursery.

The river was sand-coloured and unclear. As she walked she often wished that the river might be more meaningful. She’d like to be one of those people who got something from nature: uplift, or mental clarity, or something. Like the river might offer a symbol? She knew the river flowed out to the North Sea. But what was she meant to do with that?

Though the water looked dirty she knew it was probably just re-circulating silt. She imagined what might be below its surface: shopping trollies, condoms, pacifiers, pens, scooters, cloth, clothes, hairbands, baskets, fireplaces, buggies, furniture; tied in by reeds and rocks, and hair and rope and string, and fish folding and refolding through the mass, accumulated on the riverbed like a carcinoma.

On one of her truant days she went further than she had ever gone. When she reached a bend in the river her phone told her it became tidal. There was a man fishing there, sombre and alone.

‘Do you ever catch anything?’ she asked. Her voice was a little thin.

‘Yes.’ He looked the same age as her, with an interesting face.

‘Can I sit here?’

He cleared a spot beside him, a little nest.

The next day she told her boss that she still had cramps, and after dropping the baby she headed back to the same spot, hoping the fisherman would be there once more. They hadn’t talked about much yesterday, but it had felt companionable, and she hadn’t felt so alone.

It had been exciting to call in truant again. It gave her a feeling of exhilaration, like when she drove too fast. She had never done two days in a row. Every time she acted on her own desires, like this, it was curious to her, because she hadn’t done so in such a long time.

The fisherman was indeed in the same spot, wearing his moss-green uniform, as if he were in the military. She wondered why he had to be concealed. Was it for the benefit of the fish? So that they didn’t see him?

This time she had brought a camping basket, a little stove.

‘What’s that?’ he said.

‘I thought we could cook something.’

‘I’ve never done that,’ he said, laughing. ‘I always throw them back.’

Yesterday he had only caught one fish during the whole time she had sat there, so she knew not to expect much. Overnight she had dreamed of the fat white fish they might eat together.

It was calming to sit by the river. It was very different to the CGI water in the cartoons her son liked to watch. She remembered the force with which her milk would geyser upward when her breasts were engorged; how sometimes she’d have to spray it in the baby’s mouth, pointing the nipple in his mouth like an extinguisher toward a fire.

The fisherman sparked a cigarette. He offered her one.

She considered it. ‘Sure,’ she said, but when she took her first inhalation a cramp made her cough.

‘First time?’ he said, laughing.

‘I haven’t had one since before I was pregnant.’

The truth was she had not drunk alcohol or smoked anything when nursing either. The baby had had a very low birth weight. Only four pounds, which was a surprise, because when he was inside her she’d felt massive, and called him her Big Radish. But when he came out he was thin and rooty; tiny really. She had vowed, after his birth, to feed him whenever he wanted, and to keep herself pure. During the pregnancy, she’d eaten whatever she wanted and she feared his patheticness was all her fault.

Nursing him had been very boring. She ate no red meat, because of the lead, and the arsenic, and the cadmium. No fish high in mercury. No sugar. When she had once drunk a beer she had pumped her breasts and tipped the milk down the toilet, though the baby had been wailing for her.

But when it came to handing the baby over to the nursery, to powdered formula, and their meats and vegetables of unknown origin, she had done it without a second thought. It was weird. Weird that she should be so careful, and then suddenly stop. Maybe she had reached some kind of psychological limit, like people do in TV shows, in scripted reality where a person says ‘Enough is enough’, and they just walk straight out of the house, there and then.


Later the fisherman threw back two of the fish but the third one looked good. After smashing it on the head with a rock he began scraping at the scales, directing them into the coarse grass. The scales had been dull, but as he cut at them they flew in the air like thrown sequins, and she remembered a time, as a girl, stroking a sequined bridesmaid’s dress with her hand, feeling the unexpected roughness of the glitter. She began to have second thoughts about the fish. Its pollutants would be off-the-chain. She didn’t think the river water was regulated, or tested.

As he was working he said, ‘My girlfriend wants a baby.’

‘Do you?’ she asked. ‘Want a baby?’

‘Well, I don’t know. We’ve tried for a long time, now. It’s not working.’

‘It can take a long time. That’s what people don’t talk about.’

He began to gut the fish, pulling out the purple insides.

‘Maybe it’s too big a job.’

‘Sure. Especially for the mum, though.’

He nodded, as if to say he wasn’t resentful of this reminder.

A phone call interrupted them – it was the number of the nursery – for some reason she hadn’t saved it. They were always calling her for the most trivial things: the baby was cranky, or fussy, or had a loose poop. Though she had put her husband’s name at the top of the form – as advised by a friend – they always called her. She hoped they hadn’t called her work. She felt like she was close to getting caught. She put her phone away.

‘My mother,’ the fisherman said, now filleting the fish from the bone, ‘only had me. The way she looked at me sometimes, it was like she was crazy for me; like, demented? She was very loving. I could always see the love in her eyes, and it was as if I could read her mind in these moments. Even as a boy I’d think “Now she’s thinking she’ll kill herself if anything happens to me.” Or “Imagine if he’d stepped out into the road a second later. He wouldn’t be here.” I was always on the verge of death. Every time me and dad were late, I knew she was thinking we’d totalled the car.’

‘So you come out here to be alone with your fish.’

She regretted this as soon as she said it; she didn’t mean to be flip. ‘Sorry,’ she said. She had a bizarre image of breastfeeding him. When she thought of his latch, another cramp came.

‘No,’ said the fisherman, ‘It’s not untrue.’

It was getting darker. Stripes of orange light were segmented between the dark-blue moving clouds, and the bare branching trees looked like paper cut-outs of snowflakes, like the ones she had made as a child. Though it was dusk it was only four o’clock, and she wasn’t needed at the nursery until six.

The fish was done. He had segmented it into fillets, and ignited the paraffin stove. He asked for the oil. She realised he had taken over the process. It wasn’t unwelcome. When the fish sizzled in the pan it let off a sweet aroma.

She saw a silhouette heading toward them on the toll path. For a moment she wondered if it was her husband, but then he’d have the buggy, and anyway he wouldn’t know to head this way, up the river. She wondered if the nursery had called her husband.

‘My girlfriend,’ the fisherman said. ‘Here she is.’ And when the woman got closer he patted her brown hair. ‘Here’s Ruth,’ he said, and Ruth smiled and, after reviewing her, did not look upset or threatened. ‘Ruth, this is Emily, the person I was telling you about.’

Ruth reminded her of one of those women in the gym, who looked so put-together in their athleisure. In her imagination she skipped forward some years: Ruth wearing baggy clothes, pinned to the sofa, Ruth draping her nipple into the baby’s mouth; the baby’s painful latch, like the hooked fish.

‘I’m starving,’ Ruth said.

‘Good,’ the fisherman said.

The fish was nearly done. In the crisp cold air it smelled very good.

Another phone call came – it was nursery, once more. She ignored it again – let her husband respond this time. She had done enough, and she as she put her phone away she felt that bump again of reckless excitement, of autonomous joy. She started setting up the picnic mat, laying out plates, and knives and forks, and the fisherman served the slices of fish.

But something in Ruth’s expression had changed. Maybe she too had clocked the river water, the unknown wildness of the fish; everything impure it might contain. The fisherman began eating, but Ruth said: ‘Actually, I won’t,’ and she pushed the plate away. Ruth fidgeted a little; trying to supress something – her hunger perhaps.

The fish suddenly looked cold and unwelcoming, and the smell too sweet. It put her off. ‘Me neither,’ she said.

‘Wasn’t this your idea?’ the fisherman said, ‘Why you brought the stove, and the knives and the forks?’

‘I changed my mind,’ she said, remembering the sense of power she had felt when she had made her promise of purity to her baby: that she could take her desires and bury them, bury them absolutely, and that she might do that better than anyone else.

‘Suit yourselves,’ the fisherman said, and he tucked into the extra food, his mouth piping with steam. For a while both women watched him as he guzzled the too-hot food, both imagining how the fish might taste.

The Silent Narrator
Nanjing International Writers Residency 2022

卡by Catriona Shine (Dublin, Republic of Ireland)

Nanjing International Writers Residency 2022
















Dynasty of Time in 6 Flows
Nanjing International Writers Residency 2022

by Iain EWOK Robison (Durban, South Africa)

Nanjing International Writers Residency 2022

There were six of them at the table, and Bo had, naturally, sunk into one of the middle seats, since he was the reason they were here. The narrator had taken the seat opposite Bo, though she was not necessarily the friend who was closest to him. She felt a little awkward taking this central position, but My and Otelia sat opposite each other at the end. She thought this seat would place her in the central stream of the conversation, but it had the added, undesirable effect of dividing the table into roughly males and females. The table was long and narrow, and actually composed of two rectangular tables pushed together, short edges touching. There were two empty seats beside Sebastian and Marco, and Trond-Sigurd had still not floated in. Trond-Sigurd’s late arrival had not surprised anyone, but it was slightly disconcerting that it happened this evening. Trond-Sigurd was the only full Norwegian in their ad-hoc group, and maybe it was because of Bo’s continued shepherding, but he had never been reliable in the same way, though he was their designated cultural interpreter. They would need him more when Bo was gone, in as much as they needed this sort of guidance at all.

It was embarrassing to sit there not saying anything as Marco and Sebastian discussed a topic on which she was an expert, flooding the issue with their obvious but enthusiastic arguments. She could find no point of ingress without either seeming like she was showing off or revealing how little up to date she was. She had missed the start of the conversation as she had been listening to the conversation on her right, naturally enough, since it was Bo, opposite her, who had brought it up, and My, to her right, who had answered first. They were talking about their children’s problems at school, and Otelia, who didn’t have any children, was talking about her own childhood memories. Both Bo and My had received complaints about their children causing a disturbance in class. My’s son wouldn’t sit still, and Bo’s daughter wouldn’t keep quiet, and Bo, My and Otelia all agreed that there were unnatural demands on children who needed creative and physical freedom for a longer period of their childhood. They have a different approach in Denmark, said Bo, a more fluid kind of learning. They should be out in the woods, said My. Children should be allowed to be children, said Otelia, and they all agreed. The narrator wanted to point out that some children, her daughter included, craved deeper learning and thought the lessons were too childish.

The narrator had been on the cusp of coming out with this counterargument when she heard that the conversation on her left had drifted to her (albeit slightly erstwhile) field of expertise, and it seemed right to move over to that discussion. She was also conscious that the conversation to her right was populated by two thirds women (three quarters if you included the narrator) and was on the topic of children, whereas the conversation to her left was voiced solely by men and was of a professional nature. In her efforts to encourage more academic practice in the classroom (or her internal rallying which had been about to be vocalised) she had excluded her voice from a more intellectual conversation.

So, when she heard Sebastian say, Re-use is part of circularity, she shifted to the left.

It’s not the same thing, said Marco. It’s a sub-category. The way Thomas explains it, circularity is wider. Did you go into the database they started?

The narrator had not heard of this database, but there were many others starting up, last time she checked.

This is what we’ve all been struggling with, said Sebastian, this lack, things not available, nowhere to search.

What was really cool, was how they layered the exterior walls, said Marco.

Putting the materials with the shortest lifespan on the surface, said Sebastian, that was genius. Obvious, but genius.

It just makes me wonder what we’ve be playing at all these years, said Marco. All those building technology regulations have been sending us in exactly the wrong direction.

We need to tear up the rulebook completely, said Sebastian. We need to rethink everything we’ve been thought.

The narrator wanted to tell them that there wasn’t time to start from scratch, that, in her very valuable professional experience with circularity, there wasn’t room to discard all thoughts of energy conservation. It would take years to write all the technical guidance documents and legislation anew, and meanwhile the planet was cooking. It was just a little hard to get hold of the topic sufficiently to break in. Also, since she had not been part of this end of the table’s discussion all along, it took the others a while to realise she was listening. These were nice people, friends, and they hadn’t kicked her out of the chat or even disagreed with her (how could they: she’s said nothing) but they presumed that if she had something to say on the matter, she would have said it by now. When they realised she was listening, they presumed she was listening quietly because she was interested in what they had to say, that she was learning something from them, that they were inspiring her to see a new perspective through their eyes. These were all completely false presumptions, if that’s what they were thinking. She knew more than them on this subject, though she didn’t want to be so rude as to rub this in their faces, and she couldn’t as she didn’t know which architect and what project they were talking about, so, on an intimate level, at least, they knew more about their particular subject than she did. It was her knowledge of the wider field that was greater than theirs.

She reached for the tabbouleh, with the intention of physically interjecting before she stepped in to remind them that we must do everything at once if we’re to have any chance at halting global warming, but, while her mouth was opening to emit these words of wisdom, Sebastian saw her hand and not her mouth and said, Oh, try this too. I thought it was baba ghanoush, but it’s a kind of mushroom paste, I think. Pass us some of those dolmens and that skewered lamb. Do you have enough pita down that end, there’s loads here.

Sebastian rearranged the small plates of mezes, and the others joined in, a cascade of hands moving and shifting and toppling dishes, shoving aside LED candles flickering cold in frosted glasses and transferring miniature vases of plastic flowers and sequined containers of toothpicks down to the vacant end of the table. The waitress brought new beers for Bo and Otelia, and Marco ordered another bottle of red wine and more pita bread, though there was plenty of both down at the other end of the table now.

(While all this was going on, you’d think the narrator could have found some way to insert herself into the conversation in a meaningful way.

I’m trying.

Well, go on then.)

The narrator considered whether she should launch back into the conversation about re-use, perhaps beginning with the phrase, The thing people often forget when talking about re-use is… There were many things people forgot: how re-use fits into the rest of sustainable design, that re-use was common not so long ago when economics rendered it necessary, the links to found art and wabi sabi, and so forth, but where to start, and how to make this point without Marco and Sebastian going on the offensive, claiming that they had not forgotten any of this. While at first the narrator’s frustration came from her failure to find a point of ingress for her very valid and relevant contribution to the conversation, at this stage, there was the added obstacle of how speaking up too late would reveal that she had not been speaking up all along, afraid to share her expertise, and the others would naturally think her a bit of a dweeb, ruining the fun. They would wonder if they were expected to take care of her, to chair a meeting, taking points from raised hands, and why couldn’t people just speak up for themselves instead of waiting for someone else to hand them a microphone.

Bo, Otelia and My had slipped into a jumbled warble of Scandinavian languages, delighting in the tonal variety of what they said. The narrator had never learned Norwegian or Danish, and obviously not Swedish, thinking at first that there was no point as she wouldn’t be around long enough, and later feeling an idiot when she tried. She was the only one whose first language was English, and she liked to use this verbal advantage. These slips from English also divided the table, damming the conversation up at that end.

Where the heck is Trond-Sigurd? said My, addressing the whole table, and particularly those down at the end of the table where Trond-Sigurd should sit if he came.

He never comes, said Sebastian. You’d think he could let us know at least. We could have taken that round table by the window and had a view of the river.

You know he doesn’t have a phone, said Bo.

He does, said Marco. He just has it taped to his hallstand at home. You can usually reach him in the evening, or in the morning.

Did he go to the right place? said Otelia. There’s another one of these in Grønland, but it’s called Muhadatha East.

I just said Muhadatha in the message, said My. Shit, I’ll ring him.

He won’t be home, said Marco. He’ll have left by now. Ring Muhadatha East.

Poor Trond-Sigurd, said Bo. Do you think he’ll still be there? It’s 45 minutes after we were meant to meet.

He’s probably nudged his way into some other table, said Sebastian.

No answer, I’ll ring him at home, said My.

It’s an actual iPhone he has taped to his hall table, you know, said Marco.

Fuck off! said Bo.

I’m serious.

I’m leaving a message, said My, but if he goes all the way home to Nordstrand he’ll hardly rush out again.

Who knows, said Bo. There’s a tram up there.

Yeah, but he cycles everywhere, said Marco.

Is he poor or something? said Otelia.

Have you seen his place? said Sebastian. I heard his family own a whole island.

He just likes to be withdrawn, said Marco, stays in his own little eddy.

He likes to cultivate a sense of elusiveness, said Bo.

That’s it, said My.

We should all be more like Trond-Sigurd, said Sebastian.

Skål to that! said Bo, and they all raised their glasses, except Marco, whose was empty, so he filled up a new one and jiggled the bottom of the bottle at a passing waitress.

To Trond-Sigurd, said Bo, our absent friend who we can only dream of emulating.

To following one’s own time and tide, said Sebastian, and they all laughed, even the narrator, who didn’t feel the humour, who only wanted to join in, and her usual cackle came out a croak.

Can I take this? said the waiter, replacing the empty plate of dolmens with a ramekin of roasted peppers the colour of autumn on fire, and a boat-shaped dish of labneh. The narrator took a spoonful of the latter and passed it down the table to Sebastian. The other waitress brought a new bottle of red wine, and Bo and Otelia ordered more beer. Maybe some more pita bread, said Marco. A trio of hummus and a little jug of mint sauce were slotted into previously non-existent spaces between dishes of meatballs––or were they falafels––lamb skewers, and marinated button mushrooms with chilli flakes clinging to the pert glossy balls and whole cloves of garlic––were you supposed to eat them? There were little salads at the edges of everything.

Do they actually conscript here? said Marco.

Trond-Sigurd would know, said Sebastian.

I always thought I was a pacifist, said Otelia, but now I regret not doing military service. If we’re invaded, I’d like to know how to use a gun, to defend myself at least, if not the country.

Same here, said Bo. I don’t feel any particular national pride, but Europe in general might have to put up a barrage to defend itself. I wouldn’t know one end of a gun from the other.

It’s more about missiles and bombs than guns at this stage, said Marco.

The narrator had never been asked to do military service, and a voice that might never speak said loudly within her skull, What do you know? She considered mentioning her partner’s experiences, when he pulled out of military service, claiming pacifism though he was actually against military authority. One of her own concerns, should the country be attacked, was who their defenders would be. If the only people who did military service were guys who love guns (she realised this phrase was an exaggeration and not reflective of her more nuanced opinion), would they think enough before they burst in with their bombs? They would demand hero-status for all they killed afterwards, and it would be a setback for feminism when these military men later argued that women (mothers) needed them, and that there were roles best filled by men. “The narrator” was worried about this.

(Why did you just enclose me in inverted commas?

You think this is your story?

I’m called the narrator, so it’s an established fact that this is my story to tell.

Yes, but you didn’t make it up, did you? You had no part in its conception and execution, apart from the role of muse, and the role of human prop.

Why did you even bother to call me the narrator if I’m never to be allowed to speak? I might as well have been called the silent woman, or the non-verbal non-participant in the conversation.

You were useful to me. I couldn’t have done it without you, and not only that: This story is about you; you are its critical component; it’s told through your eyes if not your mouth.

Then call me the observer.


Are you going to send something? said Sebastian. He was asking her.

Sorry, send to what?

The Triennale, said Marco, aggrieved at having to bring her up to date and so slowing the pace of their conversation. Have you sent a proposal? he said.

Bo’s expectant gaze joined the others.

It’s not really my kind of thing, said the narrator, though in fact she had no idea what theme the Triennale had taken this time round. She had been focusing all her energy on her PhD lately and was quite overwhelmed by the academic meandering that was deemed necessary in order to make one’s point in an institutionally approved manner.

You’ve changed your tune, said Marco.

Quite the about-turn, in fact, said Sebastian. Have you gone over to the dark side of use-and-discard?

It’s too mainstream for you now, I suppose, said Bo, who was only joking. I’m telling you, guys, this is what academia does to you.

You’re just sore you didn’t get that teaching job, said Otelia, and she said it with a smile, and Bo feigned physical pain in the region of his heart.

Afterwards, they hopped on a riverboat right outside the restaurant. The gangplank was pulled up before the narrator could board. The conversation floated downstream, not missing her, and she ran along the bank, trying to keep up. She stopped when they slid under a bridge. Her phone was ringing, and she saw it was Trond-Sigurd. She didn’t answer.

Rivers Flow Day and Night
Nanjing International Writers Residency 2022

by Robert Bullock (Manchester, UK)

Nanjing International Writers Residency 2022

Part 1 – Introductio ad flumina (An introduction to rivers)

Day and night, rivers flow, never ceasing, sister watercourses half a world apart, in Europe, in Asia, in England, in China, in Lancashire, in Jiangsu, in Manchester, in Nanjing, half a world apart, flumina fluunt, wandering, meandering, pausing, rushing, overflowing, overtopping, flooding, oxbow lakes, flumina fluunt, evaporating, clear, crystal, green, yellow, brown, flumina fluunt, muddy, silted, nutritious, depositing life giving goodness, flumina fluunt, effervescent, verdant, feeding all, sustaining, nurturing the food chain, microscopic life, tiny, small, visible, bigger, human, flumina fluunt, constantly moving, day and night, dawn and dusk, eternal somnambulists, whilst we slumber, deep dream sleep, subconsciousness mind, unconscious, subconscious, REM, flumina fluunt, dawn and dusk, crepuscular, half-light, grey, shadows, falling, lifting, deceiving, tricking, sunset, lower and lower, sunrise, higher and higher, glow, full-orbed, flumina fluunt, diurnal, daytime journey, watchful, traffic, crossing, carrying, birds, floating, feet, webbed, paddling, flumina fluunt, human, canoes, boats, ships, containers, life, trade, load, unload, workers, toil, families to feed, a world’s need and greed to meet, busy, bustling, steam, diesel, power, engines roar, oars and paddles gentle movement, lungs and legs work and grunt, flumina fluunt, through the town and city, bisected, cut in half, flumina fluunt, silence before and silence again, sea approaches, evaporation begins, cycle repeats, sisters worlds apart, their lives continuous, somnambulist, crepuscular and diurnal, flumina fluunt. Day and night, rivers flow, never ceasing.


Part 2 – Flumen Somnambulist (Sleepwalking river)

Day and night, rivers flow, never ceasing, night time, sleep, human dreams, somnambulists meander, from dusk to dawn, nocturnal eyes alert and alive, human eyes drawn and drooping, minds dreaming of perfect futures and fateful pasts, loves lost, hopes and dreams, somnambulists meander, always moving, never looking back, light fades, houses darken, one by one, lights extinguished, sandman beckons, somnambulists meander, dark velvet envelops, blankets, coats, wraps, caresses, strangles agoraphobic fears, somnambulists meander, the church clocks chime the midnight hour, the dead lie slumbering beneath the gothic tower, somnambulists meander, the wee small hours arrive, silence ensues, not a pin drop to stir, grave yard shift, earning a crust, migrant workers, far from home, yawn, watch the clock, count the seconds, minutes, hours, movement, catch his eye, outside, party people, buzzing, high, ears deafened, raucous din, shared last dances, heading for beds, own or strangers, somnambulists meander, work begins, cleaning up, night time economy, taxi takes his final fare, Uber rushing here and there, street cleaners, shifts in full flow, towns and cities, garbage, trash, ever overflow, somnambulists meander, dawn first light, heading for daytime slumber, sunlight faintly stirs, beckoning life renewed, the nightshift ends, the day begins, slumberous multitudes awaken, somnambulists meander. Day and night, rivers flow, never ceasing.


Part 3 – Belesama flows

Day and night, rivers flow, never ceasing, sisters, mothers, half a world apart, some have seas to feed, others oceans, others lakes, Belesama flows, River Ribble, this river, my own, all my life, ever present, always there, constant, northern Bremetonā, a history longer than a nation, Celtic goddess, Belesama flows, ruler of northern Celtic lands, high moors, Heathcliffe, bleak Bronte fells, Belesama flows, a queen, strong, powerful, almighty, sitting regal, Belesama flows, enthroned amongst the northern mountains, three peaks, Ingleborough, Whernside, Pen-y-ghent, Belesama flows, westward facing, witnessing each setting sun, fading over the Lancashire port from whence the New World beckoned, new lives, hopes, desires, set sail from her quays, a continent populated, Belesama flows, springing pure life from limestone clints and grykes, Ribblehead, her human history more than two millennia long, Belesama flows, first memory, Rome, mighty legions, centurions drinking in life giving nectar, roaming, amassing, making camp, building roads, bringing civilisation, ever watchful of the marauding barbarians, northern trouble, the Caledonian problem, Lucius Septimius Severus, black Emperor, AD 209, soldiers behind fortifications, Belesama flows, waters carving through an ice age landscape, caves and potholes, tributary veins more water in flows, Belesama flows, journey through geology, geography and time, a millennia passes, Belesama flows, Viking settlements line her banks, high fords cross, hamlets, villages, towns all ‘wick’d’, a Nordic legacy left for all time, names forever leaving their mark, Belesama flows, great hordes uncovered, restless Victorian minds, digging and searching, uncover gems, jewels, silver, an ancient kingdom, once bordering Mercia, the old West Riding, man- made borders crossed, Belesama flows, white rose, then red, the land less steep, softer landscapes, harder histories, Belesama flows, wars of roses, red against white, Lancastrian against Yorkist, friend against friend, brother against brother, Civil War, puritan, royalist, Cromwell, King, peace hard won, peace reigns, Belesama flows, Atlantic salmon fight her current, each year, without fail, annual spawning, river in spate, birth and death, ocean crossed, miracle of nature, time and tide, Belesama flows, dredged no more, her estuary to nature now returned, emerald isles across the sea, witness to journeys end, Belesama flows. Day and night, rivers flow, never ceasing.


Part 4 - 秦淮河 Qinhuai Flows

Day and night, rivers flow, never ceasing, half a world away, 秦淮河 Huai Water, Qinhuai, the lifeblood of the nation, Qinhuai flows, billions of souls fed and watered, Qinhuai flows, inspiring, feeding, watering, foundations of life, worker, noble, royal, imperial, Qinhuai flows, Ming dynasty, palaces on her banks, a mighty nations first capital, marauders repelled, Khan, ruthless world emperor, fear, legacy lasting to this day, hearts chastened for a millennium, breathed his last, a new empire, ever watchful, vigilant, Qinhuai flows, urgent construction, mighty fortifications, Ming City Wall, lone survivor, southern wall, Zhonghua Gate, inner Qinhuai, Qinhuai flows, new old thought, Confucius, Master Kong, morality, correctness of social relationships, justice, kindness, sincerity, foundations for two and half millennium, Qinhuai flows, golden age, renaissance, rebirth, learning, scholars, Confucius Temple, Jiangnan Examination School, Qinhuai flows, finest production, silk brocade, porcelain, traditional folk arts, Qinhuai flows, success, riches, merchants, craftsmen, labourers, teahouses, salons, courtesan homes, scholars, literati, Qinhuai flows, Kunqu operas, Peach Blossom Fan, Hou Fangyu, love, Li Xiangjun, Peony Pavilion, Du Liniang, love story, Liu Mengmei, Qinhuai flows, architecture, tower, Yuèjiāng Lóu, mural, porcelain, depiction, admiral, Zheng He, seven voyages, Qinhuai flows, old, new, mighty city, Nanjing, modern, bisected, cut through, Yangtze, 长三角, Qinhuai flows, feeds, joins, merges, onward flow, arteries of a nation, ship laden, commerce, modern world, new from old, Qinhuai flows. Day and night, rivers flow, never ceasing.


Part 5 – Mighty Yangtze flows 长江

Day and night, rivers flow, never ceasing, mighty, long-river, Mighty Yangtze flows, lofty source, Tanggula Mountains, Jari Hill, high, Tibetan, plateau, 33°25′44″N 91°10′57″E, myriad appellations, Jinsha, Gold Sands, Tongtian, River that leads to Heaven, Chuān Jiāng, 川江, Sichuan River, Jīng Jiāng, 荆江, Jing RiverWǎn Jiāng, Blue River, Mighty Yangtze flows, interconnection, Grand Canal, Jing–Hang, massive nation to nourish, life giving water, used, utilised, feeds, waters, crops irrigated, Dujiangyan, sanitation, Mighty Yangtze flows, transportation across half a continent, Sampan, Jardine, industry, progress, innovation, Three Gorges, electricity, power, boundary-marking, Mighty Yangtze flows, conflict, war, Opium Wars, peace, Treaty of Nanjing, tranquillity, Mighty Yangtze flows, life sustaining, ecosystems, habitat, endemic, threatened species, Chinese alligator, narrow-ridged finless porpoise, baiji, Chinese paddlefish, Yangtze sturgeon, Sinopotamon, salamander, giant softshell turtle, Mighty Yangtze flows, nature reserves, Sanjiangyuan, Yunnan, laws, future, sustained, Mighty Yangtze flows. Day and night, rivers flow, never ceasing.


Part 6 City of Rivers - Manchester

Day and night, rivers flow, never ceasing, City of Rivers, distinct valleys, split in three, City of Rivers, River Irk skirting the north, Medlock through the centre flows, the mighty Mersey to the south, City of Rivers, Tibb, Boggart Hole Brook, Chortlon Brook, Moston Brook, City of Rivers, Dean Brook, Etherow, Whittle Brook, Butterworth Hall Brook, City of Rivers, Pierthorne Brook, Naden Brook, Wrigley Brook, City of Rivers, Parr Brook, Tonge, Astley, Croal, Eagley Brook, Bradshaw Brook, Roch, City of Rivers, ancient origins, Irish Sea ice sheet, Pennines, retreat, City of Rivers, wildlife, haven, badgers, bats, bumblebees, butterfly, City of Rivers, reserve, preserved, coot, moorhen, damselfly, dormouse, dragonfly, City of Rivers, man-made, Ship Canal, Bridgewater Canal, IndustrialAtlantic commerce, triangular trade, middle passage, sugar, hemp, cotton, Cottonopolis, Warehouse City, City of Rivers, Industrial Revolution, coal, raw materials, international trade, City of Rivers, Sporting legends, United and City, Theatre of Dreams, Busby Babes, 1958, City of Rivers, Love Will Tear Us Apart, Blue Monday, Hacienda, Brit pop, sibling rivalry, City of Rivers, 2017, UNESCO, Manchester City of Literature, City of Rivers. Day and night, rivers flow, never ceasing.


Part 7 – Flumen Verba (River of Words)

Day and night, rivers flow, never ceasing, flumen verba, maternity, gestation, ideas, notes, plans on scraps of paper, springing forth, formed, birth, baptism, flumen verba, mountains, high ground, beginning of life, tiny, trickling stream, ribbon-like, flumen verba, point of view, character, opening dialogue, first line and first page, flumen verba, flow, fluidity, cohesiveness, energy, dynamism, flumen verba, healing, wisdom, passage of time, power and beauty, emotions moved, wildness of youth, gentleness of adulthood, flumen verba, sequences, changing course, linear, episodic, parallel, flashback, flumen verba, onward momentum, unstoppable, reader to satisfy, flumen verba, powerful, rushing, gravity fed, slithering snake, chaos, violence, destruction, deceit, murder, plot twist, flumen verba, overflow, overtop, flood, rebirth, rebuild, cleanse, flumen verba, medicinal, cathartic, satisfying, discharge, sediment, fertilise, inspire, influence, flumen verba, irrigate, hydrate, transport, vulnerability, tamed, constrained, contained, channelled, funnelled, utilised, flumen verba, prequel, sequel, generate, regenerate, oceans end, final line, final page, conclusion, open ended, inspirational transformation, death, life, new beginning, circle of life, words and water, flumen verba. Day and night, rivers flow, never ceasing.

Nanjing International Writers Residency 2022

by Francesca Cricelli (Reykjavik, Iceland)

Nanjing International Writers Residency 2022


I am the silence you hear

after the last steps at dawn

going down the rocks

through the riverbed drawn in the wind

sometimes furious, violent

sometimes gentle, warm

I reflect the branches of the trees around me

night lights

the bridges across my body

I dream I am a river.


Where does the landscape begin?

As we don’t know where we begin

we must unwind the path of words

go upward in the current upward from the sea

and if it sounds like a million caged tigers

we must be a horse, a herd, the pulsing heart of the river.

Over every grit that chips off the riverbed

comes the wave unforeseen —

sometimes drought opening a rocky path

sometimes flood obliterating the margins.



I am the silence you hear

after the last meowing cat in the neighborhood

I dreamt I was a woman in the Bronze Era

born by the river Qinhuai

I’m peeling off from my skin an ancestral memory

saudade is an oriental and neolithic feeling,

an attachment to the land — in the thousands of years that separate us

my hands were planting seeds

back then when we became a sedentary species

squatting down, I opened the way through this fertile land.



Where does the landscape begin?

We don’t know where we begin

yet, every night,

a concert of singing cicadas penetrates my ears

invades my sleep, my dreams –

I see myself as a child under the trees conducting their chants

the blood flowing through my body as igarapes

over the rocks from the past

memory flows, its pebbles

settle down between my feet

the river is a scar over the tissue of time.



Somewhere else,

words walk giving life their backs

in them all centuries are contained

from them all future unravels

if we dug deeper under the riverbed of words

we would find bones and tools

reticences, fires, landslides.

If words come adrift,

I let them pull in, I gather them up, wring them out,

I hang them on the infinite clothesline of thoughts.



The landscape starts out of silence

and the sound of the imaginary water breaks out

in the big cities

as in the mind —

the dam walls break

the dammed rivers burst

the water reclaims its original path

what separates the Anhangabaú from the Yangtze

the clouds,

the rain,

the dream.

A Week before Christmas (Comic)
Nanjing International Writers Residency 2022

by Minna Yu (Angoulême, France)

Nanjing International Writers Residency 2022 Nanjing International Writers Residency 2022 Nanjing International Writers Residency 2022 Nanjing International Writers Residency 2022 Nanjing International Writers Residency 2022 Nanjing International Writers Residency 2022 Nanjing International Writers Residency 2022 Nanjing International Writers Residency 2022 Nanjing International Writers Residency 2022
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