At ChaHuiwen Shi reviews Eleanor Goodman’s translation of Something Crosses My Mind 有什么在我心里一过 by Wang Xiaoni 王小妮.
The collection provides both the Chinese and English versions of the works, allowing the reader to compare Goodman’s translations with the originals. Her translation doesn’t always provide a literal rendition of the Chinese, but it has full awareness of Wang’s poetic nuance, carries through the works’ humour and sentiments and keeps the essentials of the music. For example, there is the line “夜空背後黑汪汪的深,” which Goodman translates as “the boundless black depths behind the night sky.” Unable to reproduce the sound of the doubling “汪汪” (“wangwang”) in Chinese, Goodman cleverly uses the alliterative “boundless black” as an attempt to recreate the effect … There are many similar moments to these when the translation yields alternative imagery and themes that complicate any singular understanding of the original.
ALTA has posted the shortlist for this year’s Lucien Stryk Award, which honors book-length translations into English of poetry or Zen Buddhist texts from Hindi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean into English.
The shortlisted titles are:
Cat Townby Sakutarō Hagiwara 萩原朔太郎, translated from the Japanese by Hiroaki Sato (New York Review Books)
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
陶泥成为过去 石蜡也有了自己的 传承， 条件，不仅仅是她 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
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The newest online edition of Two Linesfeatures three Li Li 李笠 poems as translated by Eleanor Goodman.
Here’s a bit from his “Thinking of My Father While Sick”:
Did you lie there like this too? In the dawn and spreading cancer cells
you turned over, peeled a tangerine. It was raw and raining
You saw the moon digging a tomb inside your body……
I turn over. Peel a tangerine. I wish my children would come to me
so I might hear the tender young sound of “Are you better?”
They don’t come.
The shortlist for the International Griffin Poetry Prize–one of the most prestigious contemporary poetry prizes–has been announced, with Eleanor Goodman’s translation of Something Crosses My Mind 有什么在我心里一过 by Wang Xiaoni 王小妮, getting top billing.
The judges are Tim Bowling (Canada), Fanny Howe (USA) and Piotr Sommer (Poland). Their citation reads:
“What is so attractive about Wang Xiaoni’s poems as translated into English by Eleanor Goodman is her quiet, loving, meditative distance to the mostly anonymous and lonely heroes she clearly knows well. And her attitude to time, which she keeps dragging out of its anchored localities (and barely marked history) to extend and connect, or fuse with specific spaces that she also enlarges in size and scope. Moments prolong into a century or a life, imaginary beasts meld with real animals, description becomes an act of meditation. In a few lines, a village can take on the dimension of a vast landscape – and yet still remain that particular village. And while Xiaoni’s [sic] characters may not speak, they seem to have a real insight into our experience and lives. In a way nothing much happens in her magic lyricism: the wind blows, the ocean rises, people work or move from one place to another, or wait, or just leave some place, and they have souls (which behave like shadows); someone on a journey sees them, through the window, between one landscape and another, and it’s difficult to know why all this is so moving. Reading her, I found myself repeating Auden’s phrase “About suffering they were never wrong, / The old Masters.” Wang Xiaoni is a terrific contemporary poet gracefully extending the great classical Chinese tradition.”
Amy Russell at the South China Morning Post has reviewed Something Crosses My Mind有什么在我心里一过, Eleanor Goodman’s translation of poems by Wang Xiaoni 王小妮. Here’s an excerpt:
The interaction between Wang’s characters and their environment is a crucial aspect of her work, vividly epitomised in Plowman, where “red … comes after punishment” and “after pain has been quietly survived”.
Wang’s gentle but weighty words are built from sharp observation, and deliver an honesty and rawness brilliantly captured in the translation by Harvard research associate Eleanor Goodman. As a northerner writing in the south, Wang has an outsider’s perspective, noticing details that locals might overlook.