Nail House: The Poverty Of Modern China

Changsha nail house 1

“Nail house” refers to the homes of owners too stubborn to give in to developers. These people stand alone, with their house, while their neighbors depart, and their neighborhood crumbles, and a new world stamps the words BEYOND HELP onto their heads. Often, that stamp looks like this: 拆. Sometimes, it looks like the above: walls leaning against one another to keep from falling; a roof halfway torn off by a force of mankind. Here it is: the poverty of living in modern China.

This from Hug China:

The nail house that was widely reported by Chinese online media on Sunday is seen to stand on a mound in middle of a vast construction site in Daigongmiao village, Xingcheng town, Wangcheng district in Changsha city.

And images via CRI:

Changsha nail house 2
Changsha nail house 3

And a poem by Adrienne Rich:

The Ballad of the Poverties
By Adrienne Rich

There’s the poverty of the cockroach kingdom and the rusted toilet bowl
The poverty of to steal food for the first time
The poverty of to mouth a penis for a paycheck
The poverty of sweet charity ladling
Soup for the poor who must always be there for that
There’s the poverty of theory poverty of the swollen belly shamed
Poverty of the diploma mill the ballot that goes nowhere
Princes of predation let me tell you
There are poverties and there are poverties

There’s the poverty of cheap luggage bursted open at immigration
The poverty of the turned head, the averted eyes
The poverty of bored sex of tormented sex
The poverty of the bounced check the poverty of the dumpster dive
The poverty of the pawned horn the poverty of the smashed reading glasses
The poverty pushing the sheeted gurney the poverty cleaning up the puke
The poverty of the pavement artist the poverty passed-out on pavement
Princes of finance you who have not lain there
There are poverties and there are poverties

There is the poverty of hand-to-mouth and door-to-door
And the poverty of stories patched-up to sell there
There’s the poverty of the child thumbing the Interstate
And the poverty of the bride enlisting for war
There’s the poverty of prescriptions who can afford
And the poverty of how would you ever end it
There is the poverty of stones fisted in pocket
And the poverty of the village bulldozed to rubble
Princes of weaponry who have not ever tasted war
There are poverties and there are poverties

There’s the poverty of wages wired for the funeral you
Can’t get to the poverty of the salary cut
There’s the poverty of human labor offered silently on the curb
The poverty of the no-contact prison visit
There’s the poverty of yard sale scrapings spread
And rejected the poverty of eviction, wedding bed out on street
Prince let me tell you who will never learn through words
There are poverties and there are poverties

You who travel by private jet like a housefly
Buzzing with the other flies of plundered poverties
Princes and courtiers who will never learn through words
Here’s a mirror you can look into: take it: it’s yours.

How many princelings know it: the poverty of the nail house and the poverty of the condominium. Poverties upon poverties.

    One Response to “Nail House: The Poverty Of Modern China”

    1. Martin Winter

      在长沙。今天看到报道长沙发生了暴力事件,三人身亡。 Great piece, great poem. Just saw this today, Anthony, came here via your talk with Eleanor Goodman. Thanks very much. 很高兴认识你!


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