Graywolf Press on the Death of Liu Xiaobo

Liu Xiaobo 刘晓波, human rights activist, 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and poet, died on July 13, 2017–less than a month after he was granted medical parole for a terminal liver cancer diagnosis.

Graywolf Press, which published his poetry and that of his wife Liu Xia 刘霞 in English translation, now has a page in commemoration of Liu. It links to a piece by Jeffrey Yang, translator of June Fourth Elegies 念念六四, and it quotes executive editor Jeff Shots saying, “we stand in sadness and in solidarity with poet and artist Liu Xia and their families, and those many still wrongfully imprisoned for exercising freedom of speech.”

The page also includes a statement by Jennifer Kronovet, co-translator of Liu Xia’s Empty Chairs 空椅子:

Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia have been powerful symbols in the fight for democracy in China. But reading their poetry, one is reminded that in addition to being symbols, they are also real people, full of humor and insight and love for each other. I hope that Liu Xiaobo continues to be a powerful symbol in China and across the world, but I also hope that Liu Xia will have the chance someday to just be a person, free.

Click on the image above for the page in full.

Holton’s Yang Lian PEN Translates Award Winner

English PEN has announced its latest list of PEN Translates award winners, and Brian Holton’s translation of Narrative Poem 叙事诗 by Yang Lian 杨炼 (Bloodaxe) is one of the winners!

Chinese is also represented in Nicky Harman’s forthcoming translation of Our Story: A Memoir of Love and Life in China 平如美棠 : 我俩的故事 , by Rao Pingru 饶平如.

Click the image to the right for the full list.

 

 

Feeley’s Xi Xi on National Translation Award Longlist

OutLoud TooThe National Translation Award Longlists for Poetry and Prose have been released–and Chinese poetry is represented in the form of Jennifer Feeley’s translation of Not Written Words 不是文字, by Hong Kong writer Xi Xi 西西. (For some reason the publisher is listed as New Mexico State University, but actually the book is available from Zephyr / mccmcreations).

Carlos Rojas is also longlisted for his translation of The Explosion Chronicles 炸裂志, by Yan Lianke 阎连科. Other notable nominees are Jeffrey Angles, Ottilie Mulzet, Daniel Borzutsky, George Szirtes, and Esther Allen.

Click the image for the full list.

Mazanec on Learning Classical Chinese

Tom Mazanec has posted a blog entry about “How and Why to Learn Classical Chinese.” He writes:
Classical Chinese is an intrinsically interesting language. It refers to the written language of the premodern Chinese tradition and covers a period of some 2500 years (500 BCE~1920 CE) … It served  as the shared language of the elites in premodern China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. Knowledge of classical Chinese opens you up to new worlds. It represents the human experience of something like 1/5 of the people who ever walked the earth.
More practically speaking, knowledge of classical Chinese will also greatly improve your modern Chinese. The two are distinct languages (at least, by any meaningful definition of “language”), but the modern Chinese languages grew out of their classical ancestor and still bear its imprint. Most of the set phrases (chengyu 成語) that mark one’s speech as refined in modern Chinese are summaries of or quotations from classical sources and therefore obey classical structures. Many of the puzzling usages in formal, written Mandarin (the kind used in newspapers) make perfect sense with a basic knowledge of classical Chinese.
In addition, he provides links for recommended learning materials–some of them free–by the likes of David Hawkes, David Knechtges, Edwin Pulleyblank, Mark Edward Lewis, Michael Fuller, Paul Kroll, Paul Rouzer, Richard Mather, Stephen Owen, Zong-qi Cai 蔡宗齊, and Hugh Stimson, to help with reading classical Chinese poetry and prose (I guess it’s time for some women to publish materials on learning classical Chinese).
Click the image above to link to the entry.

Lingnan Symposium on Translation & Modern Chinese Poetry

Moving the Goalposts:
Symposium on Translation and Modern Chinese Poetry

龍門陣:翻譯與現代中文詩歌研討會

16 June 2017
LBYG06, Lingnan University
9:30–18:30

Zero Distance Anthology of New Chinese Poetry

unnamedAnnouncing Zero Distance | New Poetry from China, edited and translated By Liang Yujing–newly published by Tinfish Press.

“Another anthology?” you’re probably thinking–“Just what we need! Put it on the shelf next to the other dozen or so anthologies of modern and contemporary Chinese poetry that have been published in English since 1990. But look at the names this anthology includes:

Ba Ling 八零
Xidu Heshang 西毒何殇
Song Yu 宋雨
Wang Youwei 王有尾
Li Suo 里所
Mie Ren 乜人
Zuo You 左右
Ma Fei 马非
Ai Hao 艾蒿
You Ruoxin 游若昕
Wu Yulun 吴雨伦
Li Xunyang 李勋阳
Qin Bazi 秦巴子
Dong Yue 东岳
Xi Wa 西娃
Zhu Jian 朱剑
Li Yi 李异
Ya Zi 芽子
Jiang Tao 蒋涛
Xiao Zhao 小招
Han Jingyuan 韩敬源
Tu Ya 图雅
Ouyang Yu 欧阳昱
Chun Sue 春树
Yu Youyou 余幼幼
Huang Haixi 黄海兮
Shen Haobo 沈浩波
Wei Huan 苇欢
Yi Sha 伊沙

I’ve barely seen any of these poets in an anthology before! Zero Distance, then, should be something new.

Click on the image above for ordering information.

 

Yang Lian PBS’s Summer Recommended Translation

The UK’s Poetry Book Society has chosen as its 2017 Summer Recommended Translation Narrative Poem 叙事诗, by Yang Lian 杨炼 and translated by Brian Holton. The PBS writes:

Narrative Poem, Yang Lian’s most personal work to date, is built around a series of family photographs, the first of which was taken on the day when he was born, on 22 February 1955, and the last of which dates from the time he spent undergoing ‘re-education through labour’ – and digging graves – during the mid-1970s.

The poetry ranges backward and forward in time, covering his childhood and youth, his first period of exile in New Zealand, and his subsequent adventures and travels in and around Europe and elsewhere.

In ‘this unseen structure written by a ghost’ Yang Lian weaves together lived experience with meditations on time, consciousness, history, language, memory and desire, in a search for new/old ways of speaking, thinking and living.

Click on the image for more information.

Klein’s Ouyang Jianghe in Almost Island

The tenth anniversary issue of Almost Island is now out, featuring sections of my translation of “Taj Mahal Tears” 泰姬陵之泪 by Ouyang Jianghe 欧阳江河–alongside new work by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, John Robert Lee, Régis Bonvicino, and Valerie Mejer Caso. The editors write:

“Taj Mahal Tears” was produced from a visit by Chinese poets to India for the Almost Island Dialogues in 2009. The singular poet Ouyang Jianghe composes this poem from a confluence of streams – those of history, geography, primal emotion, and over all this the almost aerial gaze of a poet-philosopher.

Here is an excerpt:

The tears of 1632 still flow in 2009.
From a pillar of tears a Mughal prince
stands up, the form of a woman appearing in stone.
Tears flow into stone, chiseling through, reticulating,
…….flow stopped,
still flowing. The mutable master of rivers and mountains, tears flow state coffers
empty, flow time itself to its terminus.
Weapons flow past with no sight of warriors.
Sitars flow past without sound of strings.
Dāru in hand, yet drunkenness flows away from the body of the drinker.
Gold, utensils, a dance of arsenic and antimony, flowing away all the same.
And memory and amnesia, and the body’s mixed emotions, nothing can suffer their flowing.

1632年的泪水,2009年还在流。
一个莫卧儿君王从泪水的柱子
起身站立,石头里出现了一个女人的形象。
泪水流入石头,被穿凿,被镂空,
        完全流不动了,
还在流。这些江山易主的泪水,国库
被它流空了,时间本身被它流尽了。
武器流得不见了武士。
琴弦流得不发出一丝声音。
酒拿在手中,但醉已流去,不在饮者身上。
黄金,器物,舞蹈的砷和锑,流得一样不剩。
还有记忆和失忆,还有肉身的百感交集,全都经不起它流。

Click the image above to read the selection.

Gewirtz on Bei Dao’s City Gate, Open Up

The Poetry Foundation has published “Bei Dao’s Beijing: The eminent Chinese poet on exile and his native city,Julian Gewirtz’s review of City Gate, Open Up, the newly published memoirs of Bei Dao 北岛, translated by Jeffrey Yang. The review also weaves in decades of Bei Dao’s poetry, creating a compelling narrative of his development and longstanding interests. It ends:

Faced with the weight of history and the force of politics, Bei Dao’s struggle to “refute the Beijing of today” and “rebuild” his Beijing ultimately—perhaps inevitably—proves unattainable in either poetry or prose. He writes in his memoir, “This long-consuming task of rebuilding and reconstruction—I feel it’s almost impossible to achieve.” Yet this does not undermine the value of the attempt. In the 1994 interview, he elaborated on this point: “On the one hand poetry is useless. It can’t change the world materially. On the other hand it is a basic part of human existence… [and] what makes human beings human.” His yearning for a lost Beijing might fit the same rubric: a desire at once “useless,” “impossible,” and intensely human. “Writing is a renaming of the world,” he has said, and his memoir, like his poetry, is fundamentally an act of “renaming.” In a recent poem, “Black Map” (translated by Weinberger), Bei Dao imagines a final salute to his lost city:

Beijing, let me
toast your lamplights
let my white hair lead
the way through the black map
as though a storm were taking you to fly
..
I wait in line until the small window
shuts: O the bright moon
I go home—reunions
are one less
fewer than goodbyes
.

Click the image above for the full review.

Stand interview with Chinese Poetry Translators

Stand Issue 213, Volume 15 Number 1The current issue of Stand magazine features an interview with Chinese poetry translators Eleanor Goodman, Canaan Morse, and Heather Inwood–and the translations they’ve curated for the issue. In answer to the question “What kind of poetry translates best and is any simply ‘untranslatable’?” Morse writes:

CM: Let’s not wrongly ascribe agency here. Poetry doesn’t translate; translators translate. Inspired, dedicated translators translate best. No poetry is untranslatable as such, except for the mountain of government-sponsored, sycophantic screed that is literally too painful to translate.

Click the link above for the full interview.