Words & the World, the multilingual anthology and twenty-volume box-set of the International Poetry Nights, is now in stores, as I noticed when in a bookstore in Tsim Sha Tsui 尖沙咀. Right before snapping this picture, I saw a browser stop by the display, read a few lines, and head off to buy one of the pocket editions. No joke!
If you’re not in the Hongkong area or can’t find these books in a shop near you, click on the image to get to the ordering page.
The “Writing Across Languages” panel yesterday was, I thought, a grand success. As I mentioned in introducing the panel yesterday, the title itself was an act of what it describes, since the Chinese title of “Writing Across Languages” is 跨語際寫作 (“Translingual Writing”), which is the Chinese title of the monograph by Lydia Liu 劉禾 on how early 20th century Chinese literature crafted a new language out of the translations of other concepts and literatures; the title of her book in English–the language it was first written in–is Translingual Practice, a fine example of which is the transformation of the term “Translingual Practice” to 跨語際寫作 to “Writing Across Languages.” Our panel was also interesting in part because our panelists did not share a common language, and so we embodied not only writing across languages, but speaking across languages as well. Many thanks to our tireless simultaneous interpreters, Pan Jun 潘珺 and Wu Hui 吳惠!
All four participants–Bejan Matur (Turkey), Tomaž Šalamun (Slovenia), Tian Yuan 田原(China / Japan), and Yao Feng 姚風 (China / Macau)–had fascinating stories to tell and analyses to provide about their relationships with several languages, and how these languages and relationships helped create their poetry. Amidst Matur’s and Šalamun’s speeches about politically-motivated silencing–of Kurdish in Matur’s Turkey, and of Serbian in the Trieste of Šalamun’smother’s youth–I couldn’t help but think of Paul Celan, and how his writing in German worked to dismantle the language, and thereby cleanse it of its recent historical associations (some have said something similar about Bei Dao‘s search for a clean Chinese).
I think the role of the moderator is to speak little, a difficult task for me since my inclination is also to be a decidedly immoderate moderator. Nevertheless, I will add here a point I raised in response to Xu Xi‘s mention of the imperialism of English: it’s irresponsible–if not impossible–to talk about the spread of English without talking about the spread of American imperialism and all the changes, for the better and for the worse, that that has brought to the world; but the logic of empire is not to admit translations: much was translated out of Sanskrit, but Sanskrit evidently didn’t have a word for translation; Greek was translated into the “barbarian” languages, but what was kept in those languages was not transmitted into Greek; and Latin was translated into the other languages of Europe and North Africa, not the other way around. This model is mirrored in the obvious imbalance of translations into and out of English–much of translation around the world is from English into other languages, whereas translations only account for a notorious 3% of the American book market. To that end, the more we translate into English, the more we we allow English to be one language amongst others, instead of a hegemonic language imposing its logic and worldview on the rest of the world; in short, the more we translate into English, the more we are working against the imperialism of English and American economic and cultural domination.
Two more readings today for the International Poetry Nights, both at the Lee Shau Kee School of Creativity (Multi-Media Theatre, 135 Junction Road, Kowloon): at 3:30 with Vivek Narayanan (India), Silke Scheuermann (Germany), Wong Leung Wo 王良和 (Hong Kong), and Yao Feng (Macau), and then at 7:00 with María Baranda (Mexico), Chen Ko Hua 陳克華 (Taiwan), Tomaž Šalamun (Slovenia), Yu Jian 于堅 (China).
In addition to the twenty-volume box set I wrote about Friday, the International Poetry Nights (taking place this week from Thursday to Sunday) has also published the Words & the World anthology, which is now back from the printers’:
The anthology features the work of all twenty participating poets, a sampling of what appears in the individual booklets. The Xi Chuan poems included are “I Bury My Tail” 我藏着我的尾巴, “A Song of No Matter” 無關緊要之歌, “A Song of the Corner” 牆角之歌, “Friends” 熟人, “Manes of Yellow” 黃毛, “A Sanskrit Brick from Nanzhao (738 – 937): after a Vietnamese poet” 南詔國梵文磚：仿一位越南詩人, and “Falcons, Swans, and Pearls” 獵鷹、天鵝與珍珠.
The list price is HK$160, but will be sold at half off during the festival.
Words & The World, the twenty-volume box set of multilingual pocket-sized poetry books for this year’s International Poetry Nights in Hong Kong (which will take place from the 10th to 13th this month) has been published. It will be on sale at the festival, and in select Hong Kong bookstores soon. Click on the image below for another press release:
The Xi Chuan volume, A Song of the Corner, is a selection of poems that will appear in the forthcoming Notes on the Mosquito (New Directions, 2012), featuring the following pieces: “Somebody” 某人, “The Neighbors” 鄰居, “I Bury My Tail” 我藏着我的尾巴, “A Song of No Matter” 無關緊要之歌, “A Song of the Corner” 牆角之歌, “Friends” 熟人, “Companion” 伴侶, “My Grandma” 我奶奶, “Manes of Yellow” 黃毛, “Drizzle” 連陰雨, “Six Dynasties Ghosts” 六朝鬼魅, “A Sanskrit Brick from Nanzhao (738 – 937): after a Vietnamese poet” 南詔國梵文磚：仿一位越南詩人, and “Falcons, Swans, and Pearls” 獵鷹、天鵝與珍珠.
The other books, featuring the remaining nineteen participants of the International Poetry Nights, are by María Baranda (Mexico), Régis Bonvicino (Brazil), Arkadii Dragomoshchenko (Russia), Bejan Matur (Turkey), Paul Muldoon (Ireland), Vivek Narayanan (India), Tomaž Šalamun (Slovenia), Silke Scheuermann (Germany), Tanikawa Shuntarō (Japan), C. D. Wright (USA), Chen Ko-hua 陳克華 (Taiwan), Ling Yu 零雨 (Taiwan), Luo Chih Cheng 羅智成 (Taiwan), Tian Yuan 田原 (PRC / Japan), Wong Leung Wo 王良和 (Hongkong), Yao Feng 姚風 (PRC / Macau), Yip Fai 葉煇 (Hongkong), Yu Jian 于堅 (PRC), and Yu Xiang 宇向 (PRC). All books include the original language of composition, plus English and / or Chinese translations.
After the Poetry Nights, each book will sell for HK$25, with the whole set at HK$450. During the festival you can enjoy a 50% discount.