On the first of November the National Endowment for the Arts posted an interview between Xi Chuan and Katie Schulze, conducted in English over email while Xi Chuan was on a reading tour in the US promoting Push Open the Window (the NEA partly funded the anthology, as part of its five-year literature translation initiative). Xi Chuan’s answers again demonstrate the breadth and depth of his poetic mind. Here’s perhaps my favorite moment:
NEA: Which one of your poems is the most significant to you—in terms of subject, or the evolution or your work, or some other criteria?
XI CHUAN: A series named “Salute,” finished in 1992. 1989 abolished my method of writing poetry. Prior to 1989 I had many model poets that I tried to follow. Later, I found that these models were not enough for me to express myself. I almost stopped writing between 1989 and 1992; there was a crash in my heart, so I started writing notes. In 1992, I wrote “Salute” and it started with notes to vomit emotions/experiences about dark things that happened between 1989-1992. After I wrote this poem, I changed absolutely. Before I had an “I” in my heart; later I found [that it was multiple] “I’s” and not “we.” I found that all these deceased people live in my heart.