US-China Poetry Dialog at University of Oklahoma

Xi Chuan and other Chinese and American poets are at the University of Oklahoma for the US-China Poetry Dialog, organized by Jonathan Stalling.

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The first public events will be on the 24th at 10:30 a.m. in OU’s Bizzell Memorial Library and 7 p.m. at Fred Jones Museum of Art. There will also be a reading on the 25th in Eureka Springs, AR, at 7 p.m. at the Writers Colony at Dairy Hollow, and on the 26th in Bentonville, AR at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art at 6 p.m.

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Chinese Literature Today

CLT Vol.2 No.1The current issue of Chinese Literature Today features:

  • Chinese Poets Writing in English (Qiu Xiaolong 裘小龙, Yun Wang, Wai-lim Yip 葉維廉)
  • Non-Chinese Poets Writing in Chinese (Jami Proctor-Xu, Denis Mair, Afaa Michael Weaver [translated by Lucas Klein])
  • Special features on Yu Jian 于坚 and Wai-lim Yip
  • Book reviews of Jacob Edmond, A Common Strangeness; Michael Gibbs Hill, Lin Shu, Inc.; Xi Chuan, A Bend in the Great River; and Yu Jian, On the Long Journey.
  • And more

Click on the image above for more information.

Jidi Majia at Chinese Literature Today

Jidi Majia

Jidi Majia 吉狄马加, translated by Denis Mair:

Voice of the Bimo

—Dedicated to a Nuosu ritualist

When you hear it
It seems above all illusion
Like a faint wisp of bluish smoke
Why just now are the ranged mountains
Felt to be filled with a timeless stillness?
Whose voice drifts between men and ghosts?
It seems to have left the body
Yet between reality and nothingness
In tones both human and divine it utters
A praise song for life and death
When it invokes sun, stars, rivers, and ancient heroes
When it summons deities and surreal powers
Departed beings commence their resurrection!

 

毕摩的声音

—献给彝人中的祭司

你听见它的时候
它就在梦幻之上
如同一缕淡淡的青烟
为什么群山在这样的时候
才充满着永恒的寂静
这是谁的声音?它漂浮在人鬼之间
似乎已经远离了人的躯体
然而它却在真实与虚无中
同时用人和神的口说出了
生命与死亡的赞歌
当它呼喊太阳、星辰、河流和英雄的祖先
召唤神灵与超现实的力量
死去的生命便开始了复活!

Poetry International Interview with Mindy Zhang

In April Poetry International published their interview with Mindy Zhang 明迪 about translating poetry between English and Chinese. Here’s how the interview begins:

PI: What is the most challenging aspect of translating poetry?

MZ: The hardest part of translation is to go inside the mind of the poet and find out what he did NOT want to say. I like ambiguities and multiple readings but I think we should avoid misleading. If the poet hated rhythm and musicality in poetry, making the translation musical would mean cheating.  These are, of course, extreme cases. Usually I try to figure out what’s in a poem rather than what’s not in a poem. There are always several choices to translate a line, I would focus on which one represents the closest meaning and brings out the implied, the suggested, the hidden meaning and which one best presents the tone and the mood.  Very often I look at the translation, hmmmm, this doesn’t sound right— I make changes; I stare at the original poem, stare at it literally, until I hear the voice of it.  In other words, a translated poem should be as good as it was originally with its linguistic and emotional subtleties. Whatever drives the poem forward, the motif and echoes, the rhythm and variations, the passion or reasoning, the word play, the visual shifting, whatever, should be reflected in the translation.

Her responses include mentions of lots of poets & writers from around the world, as well as translators Jonathan Stalling, Christopher Lupke, Denis Mair, and Nick Admussen.

International Poetry Nights Wrap-up

The final reading of the International Poetry Nights Hong Kong 2011 took place last night, with Paul Muldoon (Ireland / USA), Tian Yuan 田原 (China/Japan), and Yip Fai 葉煇 (Hong Kong) reading. Tian Yuan also read the poems of Japanese poet Shuntarô Tanikawa, who was prevented from traveling due to illness. And as with Xi Chuan’s graciousness on the first night’s reading, Tian Yuan extended thanks to his English translator, Denis Mair.

Though the Nights are over, and Xi Chuan has flown off to Norway (about which I’ll be posting anon), the conversation continues at Paper Republic, with notes by Canaan Morse and extra commentary by Yours Truly. Also, I expect that videos of the readings will be posted on YouTube, as they were two years ago, so expect clips and further links to those as they appear.