Lingnan Symposium on Translation & Modern Chinese Poetry

Moving the Goalposts:
Symposium on Translation and Modern Chinese Poetry


16 June 2017
LBYG06, Lingnan University

Eleanor Goodman on Contemporary Chinese Poetry from Zephyr


As part of Paper Republic‘s series of blogs for Global Literature in Libraries throughout February, Eleanor Goodman writes on Zephyr Press, which she says “has done more to raise the profile of contemporary Chinese poetry in English translation than any other press today”:

Their books are carefully curated, well edited, and beautifully produced. Above all, their translators (here I must profess that I am one of them) tend to be at the top of the field, which is of course essential to the making of a good book in English.

Alongside mentions of their publications of Han Dong 韩冬, Bai Hua 柏桦, Lan Lan 蓝蓝, and Yu Xiang 宇向, Goodman specifically writes about her translation of Wang Xiaoni 王小妮, about Andrea Lingenfelter’s translation of Zhai Yongming 翟永明, Austin Woerner’s translations of Ouyang Jianghe 欧阳江河, Jennifer Feeley’s translation of Hong Kong poet Xi Xi 西西, Steve Bradbury’s translation of Taiwanese poet Hsia Yü 夏宇, and my own forthcoming translations of Mang Ke 芒克.

With with “deep resources of scholarship and natural talent to draw upon,” she writes, it is

this mix of qualities—the best of the contemporary Chinese poetry world combined with translators who are also careful readers and appreciators of poetry—that makes the Zephyr collection so unique and valuable. These books are a labor of love from start to finish, and it shows in the final products. There is simply no better introduction to the contemporary Chinese poetry scene available today.

Click the image above for the full article.

Bem on Stalling’s Lost Wax

lost wax 0Queen Mob’s Teahouse now features Greg Bem’s review of Lost Wax, poems by Jonathan Stalling with Chinese and English re-translations by Zhou Yu, Yao Benbiao, Nick Admussen, Jennifer Feeley, Jami Proctor-Xu, Eleanor Goodman, Andrea Lingenfelter, and me. Here’s how it ends:

Moving from poem to poem, curiosity strikes me: is the primary goal of this book to bring us toward an understanding of the nuances of multilingual and multi-personal translation? Is this just an editor’s paradise to see how the process of a significant body of learned, engaged writers see the shape of a work? If there some collective meaning across the pages? By the end of the book, I hoped for commentary. I hope for more “meta.” An afterward from or an interview between the technicians. But in its absence, I was left with my own thoughts and theories (and a drive to learn some Chinese) in hopes of getting towards an understanding of what the core meaning of “lost wax” really is.

Click the image for the full review.

Mang Ke in Cha

ImageThe new issue of Cha is here, featuring my translation of three poems by Mang Ke 芒克 from the forthcoming October Dedications (Chinese University & Zephyr)–“Street” 街, “Even After Death We Grow Old” 死后也还会衰老, and “Late Years” 晚年:

we will hope, wishing we could live forever
wishing we were not some animal to be hunted

cooked over open flame, eaten
we will hurt, and oh we won’t be able to bear it

the white hair of the dead grows from the ground
which makes me believe: even after death we grow old





The issue also includes poetry by Andrea Lingenfelter, DeWitt Clinton adaptating Kenneth Rexroth’s 100 Poems from the Chinese, Karen An-hwei Lee, and more. Click the image above for the link.


Lingenfelter’s & Meng’s Chen Jingrong in CLT

Volume 5 No. 1 Issue CoverThe new issue of Chinese Literature Today features new translations by Andrea Lingenfelter and Liansu Meng 孟莲素 of poetry by Chen Jingrong 陈敬容:
Yellow dusk, yellow sand,
Dredging from the dust these
Yellowed memories,
The shadow on the wall lets out a sigh.
Welling up in my imagination
A vast ocean like a mirror,
In its pure, translucent waves
I listen closely for my own lonely footfalls.

Click on the image for more.

Lost Wax: Translation Through the Void

TinFish Press announces the publication of Lost Wax: Translation Through the Void, by Jonathan Stalling.

The book presents Stalling’s sequence of poems about his wife Amy’s work as a sculptor. These poems are translated into Chinese and back into English by members of a “workshop” of eight fellow translators–Zhou Yu, Yao Benbiao, Nick Admussen, Jami Proctor-Xu, Jennifer Feeley, Eleanor Goodman, Lucas Klein, and Andrea Lingenfelter–then re-amalgamated by Stalling into a new final. Each poem is then presented in a) the original; b) the Chinese; c) the new English version. An additional workshop page illustrates choices made by translators on both sides of the English/Chinese divide.

The clay is the past
The wax inherits
As its own
The conditions, but not the only source
Of her arising

出现 的唯一来源。

Clay becomes the past
Paraffin has its own
This condition is not her only
Source of coming into being

Click on the image for more, including ordering information.

An Impossible Present: Five Poets from Nanjing at AAWW

Philippe Bierny 1

Nanjing is a tragic city. Its tourist spots are either places where people died or places people have been buried. Despite having been the capital during imperial China’s Six Dynasties (220-589), the city is scarred by the decline and fall of those ephemeral kingdoms. Today in Nanjing few historic landmarks remain intact, due to successive waves of destruction inflicted by Mongolian nomads, Manchu occupation, the Taiping Heavenly Army, Japanese invasion, the Civil War, and the Cultural Revolution. The city’s real history exists largely in the imagination: in myths and legends, poetry, drama, and art.

The Asian American Writers’ Workshop has published a feature of five poets from Nanjing, “An Impossible Present,” with translations by Dong Sun and Josh Stenberg, edited by Andrea Lingenfelter. Poems by Dong Sun, Huang Fan, Lu Dong, Hu Xuan, and Yu Bang. Here’s a sample from Lu Dong:

Men imitate birds
Birds imitate men’s nightmares
The greatest birds
Aim high, fly far
After a lifetime aloft
They drop from the sky
And discover that flying
Out of every kind of magic
Is the lowest trick of all.

Click the image above for the full feature.

Andrea Lingenfelter Journeys through Time and Space

Journeys through Time and Space: Bridging Worlds with Translation

University of San Francisco
Tuesday, Feb. 11 | 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.

Translating contemporary Chinese literature, Andrea Lingenfelter bridges cultures via a craft that intersects scholarship and art. Dr.Lingenfelter will talk about what she has learned in her life as a translator of poetry, fiction, and film subtitles. Informed by decades of experience with different genres, she will address some of the issues that confront the translator—rhetoric, style, esthetics, sound and syntax, idioms, culture, audience, and ethics.

Drawing on her own work, Dr. Lingenfelter will explore some fundamental differences between poetry, prose, and spoken language that become striking when we translate them. She will also talk about some of the ways that differences in language and cultural background affect how audiences experience and respond to works of literature. How do translators try to bridge those gaps? How do they do justice to the original work while simultaneously offering a meaningful experience to a new audience? How is translating a novel set in the 16th century different from translating a novel set in the late 20th century? What is special about subtitles? How does Mainland poetry have to be approached, as opposed to poetry from Hong Kong or Taiwan? What information can a translator add for the benefit of readers? What has to be left out, and why? Join us for a lively discussion of these issues and more.

For details, click on the image.

NEA Grants for Chinese Literature in Translation

From the National Endowment for the Arts:

Literary translations enter our canon as new works of art, bringing voices and stories from diverse cultures to a new audience. For the art of literary translation is not simply the act of converting an author’s words from one language into another; rather, it requires difficult choices and creative thinking in order to fully convey images and meaning. Today, the National Endowment for the Arts announced its latest efforts to support literary translation through $250,000 in recommended grants to 16 translators to support the translation of works into English from 13 languages and 15 countries.

The following grants have been awarded to Chinese literature:

  • Andrea Lingenfelter (Berkeley, California) is recommended for a grant of $12,500 to support the translation from Chinese of The Kite Family, a collection of fiction by contemporary Hong Kong writer Hon Lai Chu.
  • George O’Connell (Omaha, Nebraska) is recommended for a grant of $12,500 to support the translation from Mandarin of From Here to Here: New and Selected Poems by Chinese writer Hu Lan Lan. This project is in collaboration with Diana Shi.

Congrats to all!