Bai Meigui Chinese Poetry Translation Competition

eleanor goodmanThe University of Leeds is hosting its third Bai Meigui Translation Competition, with poems–by Chi Lingyun 池凌云, Qin Xiaoyu 秦晓宇, and Xu Xiangchou 徐乡愁–chosen by judges Eleanor Goodman, Heather Inwood, and Canaan Morse.

HeatherInwoodThe winner will receive a £490 bursary to the ‘Translate in the City‘ summer school at City University, London, in July 2017, and will have her or his winning translation published in Stand magazine in 2017.

canaan morseClick here for the poems, and here for the overview and judges’ bios.

The deadline is 20 August, 2016.

Morse Reviews Balcom’s Xiang Yang

Canaan Morse reviews John Balcom’s translation of Grass Roots: Selected Poems by Xiang Yang 向陽 (Zephyr) for World Literature Today:

Balcom’s ubiquitous preference for merging verbs into adjectival phrases or deleting them entirely strengthens static image and removes dynamic energies that might be considered noisier in English than in Chinese.

And yet the poems are not quiet. They are vividly aware of the aporias and ambiguities inherent in the classical Chinese narrative that iterates time through space, and they speak to them … Balcom’s flexible English represents some of these differences with facility; lines like “A bloody rain falls on fields plowed by bullets” stand apart from lines like “The surprise encounter of the fish and the leaves,” which are brilliant for entirely different reasons. Yet many of his decisions, especially his frequent deletions, seem hard to justify … Balcom’s introduction makes no mention of his process. Translation is frequently maligned as either a derivative act or a violent, domineering one. Perhaps greater transparency could prevent it from being either.

Click on the image for the full review.

Chinese Poetry in Asymptote

The new issue of Asymptote is out, with translations of Ya Shi 哑石 by Nick Admussen, plus a special feature on Hong Kong poetry: Tang Siu Wa 鄧小樺, translated by Canaan Morse; Lok Fung 洛楓, translated by Eleanor Goodman; Yau Ching 游靜, with translations by Steve Bradbury and Chenxin Jiang; Eric Lui 呂永佳, translated by Nicholas Wong; Lau Yee-ching 飲江, translated from the Chinese by Emily Jones and Sophie Smith; and Chung Kwok Keung 鍾國強, translated by Emily Jones and Sophie Smith.

From Chenxin Jiang’s translation of Yau Ching’s “Island Country” 島國:

There’s this island
that used to have many languages now they’ve become
one called English
another called Chinese
you’re not allowed to ever use
your own language
if your name is not an English name
the island will give you one

有這麼一個島
本來有很多語言變成
一種叫英文
一種叫中文
你任何時候都不准
用自己的話語
你的名字如果非英文
島會給你一個

Poetry in the New Pathlight

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The new issue of Pathlight is available, featuring translations of poetry by Hai Zi 海子 (translated by Eleanor Goodman), Cai Shiping 蔡世平 (translated by Canaan Morse), and Luo Yihe 骆一禾 (translated by Karmia Olutade), plus an interview with Ouyang Jianghe 欧阳江河 by Shu Jinyu 舒晋瑜 (translated by Eleanor Goodman).

Click the image for the full table of contents and free download link.

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WLT review of Sze-Lorrain’s Lan Lan

Canyon in the BodyCanaan Morse at World Literature Today reviews Canyon in the Body 身体里的峡谷 by Lan Lan 蓝蓝, translated by Fiona Sze-Lorrain. Here’s how it wraps up:

The majority of the translations in this volume are both artistically accomplished and reflective of the source texts. Yet there are too many instances in which the translator steps in front of the author instead of standing beside her. Readers expect good translations to stand independently in their own language, of course; should we not expect them to be co-creative as well?

Click the image above to link to the full review.

Morse on Bradbury’s Hsia Yü

At Paper Republic Canaan Morse reviews Salsa by Hsia Yü 夏宇 as translated by Steve Bradbury:

In order to recreate these transformative linguistic effects, Bradbury uses assonances, parallel structures, and rhymes with English words that may not appear in the original. While we obviously cannot claim (as much as critics demand it) that translations be both faithful and independent, Bradbury’s process – engaging a creative, artistic faculty that inhabits an English-language context to create a poem that represents the narrative and receptive structure of a Chinese poem – successfully makes poems that exist both within and outside of his control, which may be a more sound and equitable way to understand these words on these pages.

Click the here to read his review.

Bookworm Translation Slam

In a Battle of the Beards, Beijing Bookworm hosted a Translation “Slam.” Here’s how it went:

This year, Tibetan song lyrics (translated into mandarin) provided the raw materials. The band Neemah attended to play their compositions, and to clarify the meaning of their lyrics when translators got stumped.

Literature translator Canaan Morse and sinologist Sid Gulinck’s varying viewpoints produced some surprisingly disparate verses.

Your Ever Present Glance
Like a casual sunshine bundle
Causing a stir in my disheveled heart

wrote Gulinck. Whereas Morse thought the following was more appropriate:

Looking at me with those tender eyes
Warm and free, climbing the sunrise
Clear away dust and sin on my window.

Click the image above for the full article.