Ouyang Jianhe named BNU Writer-in-Residence

Ouyang Jianghe 欧阳江河 has been named a writer-in-residence at Beijing Normal University. China Daily reports:

In a symposium at BNU on March 16, Yu Hua 余华 called Ouyang a “broad and complex” poet for relating history to modern times. Mo Yan 莫言, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2012, said Ouyang’s poems always touch on the essence of life and the poet has the ability to make his culturally profound and philosophical poems understandable to the general public.

While compliments were paid to Ouyang’s literary achievement at the symposium, the poet said he wants to hear more criticism. He said that since many new things have occurred so rapidly in modern poetry over the past three decades, it’s harder for classics and milestone pieces to emerge.

“Our poems are still just the questions, not the answers,” he said.

Ouyang also said during the symposium that one of his biggest childhood dreams was to become a college professor. However, he never had the chance to even attend college as he was already 35 when he retired from his service in the army.

Click on the image for the full article.

Nicky Harman Interviews Han Dong

Han Dong – London, April 2009Peony Moon has published an interview with Han Dong 韩东 as conducted by his translator Nicky Harman. Here’s a teaser:

NH: You famously said that, “poetry does not go beyond language” (“诗到语言为止“). Do you still believe that? If not, what do you think are the most important principles of poetry?

HD: When I said that, it was to counter the prevailing view (in China) that “the written word must express a moral view”, and to emphasize the importance of language in poetry. But ultimately this was just another creed and, to that extent, one-sided. I understand poetry in a more rounded way now, not just as in opposition to something else. Poetry is an absolute, or at least an indication of an absolute. Analysing poetry is of limited use. Poetry doesn’t exist in the abstract, only in specific poems, in the writings of a particular poet, and we shouldn’t try to over-explain it. I dream of being able to write poems which need little or no explaining, and can be understood intuitively. Readers don’t need training but poets do, and that training ought to include how to stir people’s hearts.

Click on the image above for the full interview.

Chinese Literature Dissertation Reviews: Sent-down Youth Literature in Post-Mao China

Sent-Down Youth Literature in Post-Mao China Dissertation Reviews has posted Zhu Yanhong’s review of Wang Yanjie’s dissertation, The “Sent-Down” Vision: Poetics and Politics of Zhiqing Literature in Post-Mao China. Here’s how it begins:

Zhiqing 知青 writers are often considered by literary critics as a generation who express a profound sense of nostalgia in their writing. Yanjie Wang’s dissertation The “Sent-down” Vision: Poetics and Politics of Zhiqing Literature in Post-Mao China is an insightful and probing study that challenges this conventional yet still prevalent view of zhiqing literature. Defining the zhiqing generation rather as rootless and displaced, Wang skillfully investigates what she calls the “sent-down” vision of the zhiqing writers. She convincingly demonstrates that such a vision is enabled and enriched by zhiqings’ decade-long rustication experience and that the past associated with the sent-down experience is invoked not simply to express nostalgic feelings but rather to offer a “critique of contemporary China’s massive modernization project” as driven by developmentalism, materialism, and consumerism (p. 1).

Click the image above for the full review.

CFP: 3rd CAAP Convention, Shanghai December, 2014

The 3rd Convention of the Chinese/American Association for Poetry and Poetics will take place in Shanghai from December 18 to19, 2014. This convention will be hosted by Shanghai University and co-sponsored by Central China Normal University, Foreign Literature Studies, Forum for World Literature Studies, University of Pennsylvania, and China Three Gorges University. Papers are called from scholars all over the world.

I. Conference Topics
1. Modern and contemporary poetry and poetics
2. Meaning/politics of poetic form
3. On and off the page: Poetry, society, culture
4. Poetry in the genealogical perspective: the evolution (and devolution) of poetic genres
5. Poetry and poetics in the context of comparative literature and comparative arts
6. Poetry in the global context: Diffusion, exchange, conflict
7. Poetry and new media
8. Poetics of translation

For the full call for papers at Charles Bernstein’s blog, click the image above.

Yang Lian in Michigan at The Struggle of Memory Against Forgetting

As part of a three-day retrospective event to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Tiananmen Student Movement of 1989, Yang Lian 杨炼 will be giving a reading at the University of Michigan as part of The Struggle of Memory Against Forgetting: Tiananmen 25 Years On.

Location: Stern Auditorium
University of Michigan Museum of Art
525 S. State Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Description:
6:00pm:  Reception ~ UMMA Commons Area
7:00pm:  Poetry Reading ~ UMMA Stern Auditorium

Yang Lian will be introduced by Kelly Askew, Director of the African Studies Center, and moderated by Professor San Duanmu, U-M Dept. of Linguistics.

Yang Lian was born in Bern (Switzerland) in 1955, where his parents were in the diplomatic service, and grew up in Beijing…
A recent passion and project of Yang Lian is to encourage the production and translation of poetry written in dialects of Chinese: Sichuan dialect, Shanghainese and Beijing dialect. There is currently no vehicle for writing poetry in these languages since Chinese orthography supports Mandarin only. Yang has been closely involved with a collective of Slovenian poets who, despite the small population of their country, support poetic production in nine Slovene dialects. He is currently working with Kelly Askew (U-M) and a formerly exiled Kenyan poet, Abdilatif Abdalla, on translating poetry composed in various dialects of Swahili into English and from English into dialect forms of Chinese. The idea is ultimately to produce a volume on ‘dialect poetry’, written in the shadows of dominant, politically powerful, languages (Mandarin and Standardized Swahili being but two examples).

Organized by the African Studies Center and co-sponsored by the Center for Chinese Studies, the International Institute, and the Confucius Institute at the University of Michigan.

“A Wen Yiduo Poem Is Like a Jewel”

China Digital Times has interviewed Robert Hammond Dorsett about his newly released Wen Yiduo 聞一多 translations, Stagnant Water & Other Poems.

CDT: Wen himself worked within the tension between the classical Chinese of his education and the vernacular advocated by his contemporaries. Are there poems where one type of language wins over the other, or where one makes a conciliatory bow to the other?

RD: I believe after the beginning of the May Fourth Movement, Wen Yiduo was committed Robert Dorsett (with permission from BrightCity Books)almost entirely to the vernacular. After his return to China from the United States, he became a leading expert in classical Chinese literature but always sought to make that literature immediate and relevant. He resisted most of his contemporaries who urged the use of politically dominated free verse …  Wherever he found a conflict within himself, he didn’t resolve it, but used that conflict as a source of power. Only by the possession of the past and by its application to the present can a future be built: I believe this was his philosophy.

Click the images above for the full interview.

Letter from Hong Kong on Your Impossible Voice

Xi Chuan reading at International Poetry Nights. Photo by Lucas Klein.Your Impossible Voice has published my “Letter from Hong Kong,” about the International Poetry Nights.

Reviewing exiled Chinese poet Bei Dao’s first full-length collection The August Sleepwalker in English in 1990, a professor quipped, “These could just as easily be translations from a Slovak or an Estonian or a Philippine poet. It could even be a kind of American poetry….”

From a certain perspective—say, that of the seventeenth century—the reviewer was right … But from the perspective of poetry today, which is to say, from the perspective of people who habitually, consciously, and conscientiously read contemporary poetry around the world, do all cultures and languages and poetries blend together?

We have not had Slovak or Estonian poets, but Albanian poet Luljeta Lleshanaku, from the 2009 festival, and Russian Arkadii Dragomoshchenko and Slovene Tomaž Šalamun, from 2011, may serve as sufficient examples, as will 2013 Filipina participant Conchitina Cruz and American Jeffrey Yang.

And then I translate Chen Maiping’s 陳邁平 Chinese translation of Aase Berg’s Swedish poetry into English, to compare against the English by Johannes Göransson.

Click on the image above for the whole piece.

Hung Hung Reading at Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan Occupation

Hung Hung reading his poem in the public gathering outside legislative yuan in Taipei. Photo from Hung Hung's FacebookTaiwan poet Hung Hung 鴻鴻 read an occasional piece at the Legislative Yuan occupation in Taipei. Here’s how it begins:

我們來了,夏天也來了
我們的腳步,可以溫柔也可以堅定
我們的聲音,可以優美也可以嘶啞
我們的拳頭,可以揮向天空也可以揮向不義
我們的心,可以是血的紅也可以是青草的綠

We are coming, when the summer is coming
Our footsteps can be soft, our footsteps can be firm
Our sounds can be beautiful, our sounds can be hoarse
Our fists can be raised up toward the sky, our fists can be raised up against injustice
Our hearts can be as red as blood, our hearts can be as green as the grass

No word on who translated it, but you can read the rest by clicking the image above.

Photographic Response to Pound’s Cathay by Zhao Jing

"Song of the Bowman of Shu" by Zhao JingThe Baltimore Sun reports:

Around the turn of the 20th century, ancient Chinese poetry grabbed fresh attention in the West and provided inspiration for some notable works.

Austrian composer Gustav Mahler, for example, found in a set of German translations of Li Po the impetus to create “Das Lied von der Erde” (“The Song of the Earth”). And four years after the 1911 posthumous premiere of that profound music, American poet Ezra Pound published “Cathay,” his influential interpretations of Li Po and other Chinese poets.

A century later, Baltimore-based artist Zhao Jing offers her response to Pound’s “Cathay” in a powerful series of photographic diptychs under the same title, now on exhibit at C. Grimaldis Gallery.

In a way, Zhao has gone through something similar to Mahler’s experience.

Responding to a translation, Mahler composed a kind of second translation — something that captured his own time and style, but also the sensibility of the original. Likewise, Zhao has, in effect, re-translated Pound’s translations and has made her own statement about them and the original poems.

The show will be on exhibit through April 12. Click on the image above for the full article & more information.