Strange and Incorrect Translations 

In the fall of 2015, I had the opportunity to study the intersection of tech and translation with Mark Minster. Together we translated dozens of classical Chinese poems by various authors, including Li Bai and Du Fu, using natural language processing machines like Google Translate and available word by word translations. The intent was to investigate the ways technological progress has encroached on traditionally artistic spaces. By no means were the translations we did definitive. In fact, we were more interested in our failures. The translations constructed from our Frankenstein processes were like the undead children of Ezra Pound's Cathay, only instead of searching for ways to make them new, we wanted to experience how technology was making poetry new for us—and without us.  

Drunk Alone

by Li Bai

like the flowers around my pot    of wine: I spent my time

considering how to perfectly pour    another drink alone


in a moment of clarity I lifted my cup    and invited the bright moon

after befriending my bent shadow    we three set together


but the moon could not leave its place    to take the drink I poured

and my adherent shadow held my shirt    just like a newborn child


yet for a moment we were partners    me the moon and my shadow

when I was tired from the journey    they filled the spring with laughter


even when I tried to sing    the moon said I was fine

and when I danced without a song    my shadow knew the steps


they were there when I awoke    and we were always laughing

but I feel drunker every minute    and where have they run off to?


it feels like we will roam forever    and our passions travel too

but for now we bide our time beside    the calm of the Celestial River 




© 2023 by  Designs by Thomas Rider. Proudly created with

Poet With No Face

Poetry / Engineering / Art


I'm an electrical engineer with a passion for poetry who is constantly looking for ways to entangle the two and create artistic spaces that challenge the ways we normally interact with the world. If you have any related ideas or want to get in contact with me, send me a message below! 

  • Tumblr Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon