Brian Holton: “Translator / Ghostwriter / Ghost Composer” at CUHK

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Renditions Distinguished Lecture Series on Literary Translation

“Translator / Ghostwriter / Ghost Composer”
Speaker: Brian Holton
Date: 16 December 2015 (Wednesday)
Time: 4:30–6:00 p.m. (Tea reception: 4:00–4:30 p.m.)
Venue: LT6, Yasumoto International Academic Park (YIA),
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

MCLC Review of Jade Ladder

200Modern Chinese Literature & Culture has published Meng Liansu’s review of Jade Ladder: Contemporary Chinese Poetry, edited by Yang Lian 杨炼 and W. N. Herbert, with Brian Holton and Qin Xiaoyu 秦晓宇. Here’s how she begins her piece:

Jade Ladder is a welcome addition to the handful of anthologies of contemporary Chinese poetry in English, and the most comprehensive one to date. Featuring fifty-three poets born in mainland China and nearly 200 poems written between the 1970s and 2010, this anthology introduces the reader to a significantly larger number of excellent poets and poems than its peers and presents a fascinating overview of contemporary Chinese poetry in the past three decades. It is an important resource for general English-language readers interested in poetry and China, as well as for students, teachers and scholars of Chinese literature and culture.

Click the image above for the full review.

Holton & Herbert do Mang Ke’s “The Moon on the Road”

The Scottish Poetry Library has published the Mang Ke 芒克 poem “The Moon on the Road” 路上的月亮, from Jade Ladder, as translated into English by Brian Holton & W N Herbert.

Certainly,

There’s nothing better to take pride in than being human.

But you?

You’re a cat.

And a mouser may look at a Mao.

To read the poem in full, click the image above.

Mark Burnhope Reviews Jade Ladder

At Magma Poetry Mark Burnhope has posted his review of Jade Ladder, the recent anthology of contemporary Chinese poetry published in the UK. Burnhope is new to Chinese poetry, and he doesn’t know whether family names come first or last in Chinese, but he raises some nice questions about translation in his enthusiastic take on Chinese poetry today. Here’s how it begins:

In his essay concluding Jade Ladder, Brian Holton discusses the trials, tribulations, negotiations and compromises involved in translating Chinese poetry into English. Some of Yang Lian and Qin Xiaoyu’s first choices were shelved, he writes, “because the joke just wasn’t funny in English”, poems “were speaking only to Chinese readers’, or they ultimately “fell flat in translation”. The translators generally avoided footnotes unless they appeared in original poems, or unless they would “transform a poem that otherwise would be closed to the reader into something more accessible and enjoyable”.

Jade Ladder’s Poets

I’ve compiled a list of the poets whose work appears in English translation in Jade Ladder, the new anthology of contemporary Chinese poetry edited by Yang Lian 杨炼, W N Herbert, Brian Holton, and Qin Xiaoyu 秦晓宇. The anthology presents the work of poets by birth year, but the work is separated into sections–lyric poems, narrative poems, neo-classical poems, sequences, experimental poems, and long poems–so I’ve put together this alphabetical list of the poets represented. Poets in bold (23, by my count) are those not included in the recent Copper Canyon anthology, Push Open the Window (of whom 19 of the 49 are not included in JL; click here for that anthology’s table of contents). Also, since Jade Ladder is English-only, I’m not sure of every poet’s name in Chinese, and consequently have left some blank. If you know, or spot any other errors, let me know.

  1. Bai Hua 柏桦
  2. Bei Dao 北岛
  3. Chen Dongdong 陈东东
  4. Chen Xianfa 陈先发
  5. Duo Duo 多多
  6. Ge Mai 戈麦
  7. Gu Cheng 顾城
  8. Hai Zi 海子
  9. Han Bo韩博
  10. Hu Dong
  11. Hu Xudong 胡续冬
  12. Huang Canran 黄灿然
  13. Jiang Hao 蒋浩
  14. Jiang He 江河
  15. Jiang Tao 姜涛
  16. Liao Yiwu 廖亦
  17. Lü De’an 吕德安
  18. Ma Hua 马骅
  19. Mai Cheng
  20. Mang Ke 芒克
  21. Meng Lang 孟浪
  22. Ouyang Jianghe 欧阳江河
  23. Pan Wei
  24. Qin Xiaoyu 秦晓宇
  25. Qing Ping 清平
  26. Senzi 森子
  27. Shui Yin
  28. Song Lin 宋琳
  29. Song Wei
  30. Sun Lei
  31. Sun Wenbo 孙文波
  32. Wang Ao 王敖
  33. Wang Xiaoni 王小妮
  34. Xi Chuan 西川
  35. Xiao Kaiyu 肖开愚
  36. Ya Shi
  37. Yan Li
  38. Yang Lian 杨炼
  39. Yang Xiaobin 杨小
  40. Yang Zheng
  41. Yi Sha 伊沙
  42. Yu Jian 于坚
  43. Yu Nu 余怒
  44. Zang Di 臧棣
  45. Zhai Yongming 翟永明
  46. Zhang Danyi
  47. Zhang Dian
  48. Zhang Shuguang 张曙光
  49. Zhang Zao 张枣
  50. Zhong Ming
  51. Zhou Lunyou
  52. Zhu Zhu 朱朱
  53. Zou Jingzhi

Jade Ladder Arrival

I received my copy of Jade Ladder: Contemporary Chinese Poetry from Bloodaxe Books yesterday. Edited by Yang Lian 杨炼, W N Herbert, Brian Holton, and Qin Xiaoyu 秦晓宇, it’s brimming with Chinese poetry from the last thirty-five years, mostly translated by Holton with Lee Man-Kay 李漫琪 and / or Herbert. Jade Ladder includes five Xi Chuan poems–one, “Exercises in Thought” 思想练习, in my translation (which Herbert calls “marvellous work”!), one in Holton’s translation, and two done by Xi Chuan with Bill Herbert. This allows for readers to get a sense of how different translators work, and of course to see different aspects of Xi Chuan’s poetry as they find different expressions in English.

Also of interest, both to scholars and general readers, are the preface by Herbert, the introduction by Yang Lian, the essays by Qin Xiaoyu, and the afterword by Holton.

Words Without Borders on the London Book Fair & Contemporary Chinese Poetry

Last week Words Without Borders was reporting on location from the London Book Fair, and their report from Day 3 is full of excitement about Chinese poetry in English and the newly published Jade Ladder: Contemporary Chinese Poetry, which includes my translations of some of Xi Chuan’s work. Here’s the beginning of their writeup:

The highlight of the third and final day at the Literary Translation Center was a conversation among poets, editors, and translators about an exciting new book of contemporary Chinese poetry.  The book is called Jade Ladder—and the panelists discussing it, and related subjects, sounded like just the playful, dissenting and sensitive voices you’d hope to find in such company.

As I posted before, Xi Chuan was one of the panelists at the event, but for some reason WWB didn’t mention him by name; nor did they mention him as part of the Chinese poetry panel with Han Dong 韩东 and Nicky Harman, either, which he also participated in. Ah well.

Interview with Xi Chuan on China Arts Critique

Last week at the London Book Fair Xi Chuan was interviewed in Chinese by China Arts Critique 中國藝術批評, a discussion covering internet poetry, the state of translations of international poetry into Chinese, and the state of Chinese poetry abroad, including the new anthology Jade Ladder: Contemporary Chinese Poetry and my translation of his selected poems, Notes on the Mosquito.

It’s a nice, quick interview, but I do have one gripe. Instead of giving our book its proper title, Notes on the Mosquito in Chinese (蚊子志), they wrote it as 蚊子痣–which means “mosquito’s mole.”