An Iron Nail 铁钉

A few photos and the accompanying notes from the premiere of my recent work for two speaking percussionists, performed this past week by Yongyun Zhang & Xinyi Zheng:

In the furnace, she casts herself as an iron nail…

An Iron Nail 铁钉 explores the poetry of Zheng Xiaoqiong 郑小琼 (b. 1980), a former migrant worker who left Sichuan Province to enter the factories in Guangdong Province. At age twenty-one, she began to write about her experiences. Her poems offer a window into the lives of and conditions faced by factory workers.


When I visited Xiaoqiong in May 2018, she took me to Dongguan to listen to the sounds of the factories firsthand. Every factory sounds unique: a plastic factory, a hardware factory, an electronics factory…

“Little by little gathering rust,

Little by little swallowing her up…

This work is dedicated to Zhang Yongyun and to Zheng Xiaoqiong.
April 2019, Beijing.