An old interest he once laid aside has come back to bring great personal fulfillment to Palestine resident and England native Mike Farman.

As a youth, Farman studied Chinese language and culture at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies and spent a year living and learning about Asian culture in Hong Kong.

According to Farman, when he started a career in electronic engineering, he put his love of the Chinese language — particularly translating it into English - aside.

“I never really forgot about what I learned,” he said. “I always kept a deep down‚ interest in it.”

Five years ago, that interest in translating was rekindled and has become a very successful pastime for him.

“I translated one Chinese poem and just got hooked on it after that,” he said. “I have been doing it ever since.”

Farman has submitted several translated poems to magazines and has been published in 14 of those literary magazines so far. He also has published his own book of translated poems entitled “Clouds and Rain,” which is available for purchase locally at Judy’s Java Joint in Old Town Palestine.

“I get poems off the Web or from Chinese books I have purchased,” he said. “Most of the latest poems I have translated have been from the ancient ‘Books of Songs’ which dates back to 600 B.C.

“I love the characters — they have an unexplainable beauty to them,” Farman said about what drew him to translating the Asian language. “The hardest part of translating though, is learning the characters — there are 5,000 to 10,000 of them in the Chinese language.”

Farman, a member of the American Literary Translators Association, has written several articles for the organization and has participated in panels at the group’s annual conferences.

“Being a translator is kind of a solitary hobby,” he said. “Going to the conferences helps us to make friends and get to know people with similar interests.”

Farman came to Palestine from England 14 years ago as a part of a team of scientists doing a project at the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility. It was at that time he met and married his wife, Margarita.

“I did experience a bit of culture shock coming here to Texas,” Farman said. “The distances involved in traveling and the hot summer weather have been hard to get used to.”

Since his arrival in the United States, Farman has worked as an electrical engineer for the balloon facility, where he designs new pieces of equipment for specific projects going on at the base. He recently became part of the facility’s first team to compete in the Anderson County Bee For Literacy contest scheduled for Friday.

“I am also a member of the local First Draft Writers Group,” Farman added. “We meet in Palestine twice a month.”

Farman has two grown children, Catherine and Kit, who both are currently attending college. His wife, Margarita, is a nurse at Palestine Regional Medical Center.


Mary Rainwater may be reached via e-mail at

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