Monday, November 7, 2016

Monday Muse: 'Iron Moon' Poetry Documentary

I swallowed an iron moon / they called it a screw [. . . .]
~ Xu Lizhi

Currently underway (until December 17) is a Kickstarter campaign for Iron Moon: The Poetry of Chinese Workers, a documentary about the lives of Chinese migrant workers, the exploitative and dangerous conditions under which they labor for global corporations, and the poetry they write about their experiences. The film's title is borrowed from "I Swallowed an Iron Moon", a poem by Xu Lizhi, a Chinese worker who committed suicide at age 24; he had worked at an Apple manufacturing facility and left behind a poetry collection. (Time magazine featured Xu's story in the article "The Poet Who Died for Your Phone".) In addition to Xu's, the film follows the stories of four others: "Lucky" (Chen Nianxi), a mine demolitions worker; "Old Coalminer" (Lao Jing), a coal miner for more than two decades; "Dawn" (Wu Xia), a garment factory worker; and "Blackbird" (Wu Niaoniao), an unemployed assembly line worker. Selections of all five workers' poems are to be anthologized in the book Iron Moon, to be translated by Eleanor Goodman and published in 2017 by White Pine Press.

The documentary and corresponding anthology are the first of three such planned films and anthologies. The Kickstarter campaign funds, if raised successfully, will go toward translation and publication of the Iron Moon poetry anthology, as well as transportation and accommodations for the film team during its tour in the United States (screenings and discussions are planned in New Haven, Connecticut; Boston, Massachusetts; New York City; Durham, North Carolina; and San Francisco and Los Angeles, California). 

Directed by Xiaoyu Qin and Feiyue Wu and produced by Qingzeng Cai and Xiaobo Wu, Iron Moon has received a number of awards, including "Best Documentary Film" at Shanghai International Film Festival, a "Golden Horse Award", and a China Academy Award.

Additional excerpts from the film may be viewed at the Kickstarter link above.

Also see:

Eleanor Goodman, "The Dark Fantastical World of Wu Niaoniao", The Best American Poetry Blog, October 27, 2016

Eleanor Goodman, "A Product's Story, A Worker's Story", The Best American Poetry Blog, October 26, 2016 (This post is about the female worker-poet Zheng Xiaoqiong.)

Eleanor Goodman, "The Death of a Poet", The Best American Poetry Blog, October 25, 2016 (This post concerns Xu Lizhi.)

Eleanor Goodman, "Iron Moon and the Lives of Chinese Worker-Poets", The Best American Poetry Blog, October 24, 2016 (This post is about Chen Nianxi.)

Ishaan Tharoor, "The Haunting Poetry of a Chinese Factory Worker Who Committed Suicide", The Washington Post, November 12, 2014

Iron Moon on FaceBook

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