Tuesday, September 15, 2015 – 4:30pm
Dr. Christopher Lupke, Washington State University
Welsh Humanities Classroom Building, Room 304, University of South Carolina
Christopher Lupke will provide a reading of his translations of contemporary Chinese poet Xiao Kaiyu’s work. Xiao Kaiyu is widely revered in China for the challenging structure and innovative use of language found in his verse. Spending several years in Germany, Xiao frequently comments obliquely on social issues facing ordinary people in China, on the pressures under which they labor, and on the ways they negotiate their practical and spiritual lives on a daily basis. The linguistic difficulty and profoundly serious subject matter are what first attracted Lupke to his work. Translating Xiao into English has been like solving a puzzle, but a puzzle that could be solved in many different ways, and in no way at all. It has been an extremely demanding process. In this reading and desultory discussion, Lupke argues that translation is one of the most difficult modes of creative writing that deserves to be considered alongside its more privileged siblings that are typically, but erroneously, deemed to be “original” work in contrast to the derivative nature of translation. Given the utter complexity of Xiao Kaiyu’s work in its language-busting modes, and the fundamental differences in expression between Chinese and English, the work of the translator can be viewed as nothing less than a creative effort. Lupke’s translations of Xiao Kaiyu’s poetry have appeared in New England Review, Five Points, Free Verse, Eleven Eleven, Epiphany, Michigan Quarterly Review, Cha: An Asian Literary Review, E-Ratio, and Asymptote, as well as some anthologies. He is currently seeking a publisher for a collection of Xiao’s work in English.
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