Nicky Harman Interviews Han Dong

Han Dong – London, April 2009Peony Moon has published an interview with Han Dong 韩东 as conducted by his translator Nicky Harman. Here’s a teaser:

NH: You famously said that, “poetry does not go beyond language” (“诗到语言为止“). Do you still believe that? If not, what do you think are the most important principles of poetry?

HD: When I said that, it was to counter the prevailing view (in China) that “the written word must express a moral view”, and to emphasize the importance of language in poetry. But ultimately this was just another creed and, to that extent, one-sided. I understand poetry in a more rounded way now, not just as in opposition to something else. Poetry is an absolute, or at least an indication of an absolute. Analysing poetry is of limited use. Poetry doesn’t exist in the abstract, only in specific poems, in the writings of a particular poet, and we shouldn’t try to over-explain it. I dream of being able to write poems which need little or no explaining, and can be understood intuitively. Readers don’t need training but poets do, and that training ought to include how to stir people’s hearts.

Click on the image above for the full interview.

Languages Great and Small: Evolutions and Revolutions in Poetry: International Poetry Nights Hong Kong 2013 Panel

Languages Great and Small: Evolutions and Revolutions in Poetry

Moderator: Prof. Leo Ou-fan Lee
Fri, 22 November 4:00 – 5:30 p.m.
Venue: Chinese University of Hong Kong

Adonis (Syria), Dunya Mikhail (Iraq), Olvido García Valdés
(Spain), Lee Seong-bok (South Korea), Han Dong 韓東 (China), Natalia Chan 洛楓 (Hong Kong)

Islands or Continents

Photo: 2013年香港國際詩歌節出版詩集。赞~Poems by Adonis (Syria), Aase Berg (Sweden), Conchitina Cruz (The Philippines), Menna Elfyn (Wales), Lee Seong-bok (South Korea), Tim Lilburn (Canada), Zeyar Lynn (Burma), Dunya Mikhail (Iraq), Peter Minter (Australia), Tomasz Różycki (Poland), Olvido García Valdés (Spain), Jeffrey Yang (USA), Raúl Zurita (Chile), Natalia Chan 洛楓 (Hong Kong), Han Dong 韓東 (mainland China), Lan Lan 藍藍 (mainland China), Un Sio San 袁紹珊 (Macau), and Ye Mimi 葉覓覓 (Taiwan), with translations into English and/or Chinese.
Click the image above for ordering and purchase information.

International Poetry Nights in Hong Kong 2013

21 – 24 November, 2013

Featuring: Adonis (Syria), Aase Berg (Sweden), Conchitina Cruz (The Philippines), Menna Elfyn (Wales), Lee Seong-bok (South Korea), Tim Lilburn (Canada), Zeyar Lynn (Burma), Dunya Mikhail (Iraq), Peter Minter (Australia), Tomasz Różycki (Poland), Olvido García Valdés (Spain), Jeffrey Yang (USA), Raúl Zurita (Chile), Natalia Chan 洛楓 (Hong Kong), Han Dong 韓東 (mainland China), Lan Lan 藍藍 (mainland China), Un Sio San 袁紹珊 (Macau), and Ye Mimi 葉覓覓 (Taiwan)

click the image above for more information

WLT Review of Han Dong & Ouyang Jianghe

A Phone Call from Dalian World Literature Today has published Josh Stenberg’s review of Zephyr books A Phone Call from Dalian by Han Dong 韩东, translated by Nicky Harman, and Doubled Shadows by Ouyang Jianghe 欧阳江河, translated by Austin Woerner:

Ouyang Jianghe and Han Dong … both occupy established places in what, for over thirty years, has been known as avant-garde Chinese literature. In poetic approach, they represent divergent tendencies—Ouyang cosmopolitan, clean, and heavily referential; Han craftily offhand, personal, confidently bizarre, not tetchy about grime Doubled Shadowsor sex. Where Ouyang often seems to offer an argument about the cultural currents and skirmishes of today’s China, Han’s work most often reads as a lament for the failure of attempts to bridge the spaces between people

 

Words Without Borders on the London Book Fair & Contemporary Chinese Poetry

Last week Words Without Borders was reporting on location from the London Book Fair, and their report from Day 3 is full of excitement about Chinese poetry in English and the newly published Jade Ladder: Contemporary Chinese Poetry, which includes my translations of some of Xi Chuan’s work. Here’s the beginning of their writeup:

The highlight of the third and final day at the Literary Translation Center was a conversation among poets, editors, and translators about an exciting new book of contemporary Chinese poetry.  The book is called Jade Ladder—and the panelists discussing it, and related subjects, sounded like just the playful, dissenting and sensitive voices you’d hope to find in such company.

As I posted before, Xi Chuan was one of the panelists at the event, but for some reason WWB didn’t mention him by name; nor did they mention him as part of the Chinese poetry panel with Han Dong 韩东 and Nicky Harman, either, which he also participated in. Ah well.

Today at the London Book Fair

Xi Chuan will be appearing with SOAS professor Michel Hockx, English poet Pascale Petit, and fellow Chinese poet Han Dong 韩东 at the London Book Fair (click for time & whereabouts).

Also keep an eye out for Han Dong’s poems, translated by Nicky Harman as A Phone Call from Dalian, newly out from Zephyr Press‘s Jintian series.

Xi Chuan at the London Book Fair

Digital Conference catch up

The London Book Fair opens today, with China as the Guest of Honor. My friend the translator Bruce Humes compiled a list of China-related events, but his blog is down, so I’m re-posting here:

April 16

Modern Chinese Masters: The launch of two new books in translation by Annie Baobei and Li Er, together with their translators and publisher Harvey Thomlinson.

Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2012: Shortlist Spotlight: Chinese novelist and film maker Xiaolu Guo and Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival Nick Barley as they reflect on judging the scores of books in translation submitted for this year’s award. They will be sharing their insights into literary translation with Literary Editor of The Independent Boyd Tonkin, a long-serving judge of the Prize.

Editing China and Japan: This session will explore the joys and challenges of editing translations from Chinese and Japanese, languages and literary cultures that are unfamiliar to many editors and readers. How can editors make decisions about translation from languages they don’t know; what are the peculiarities and specificities of languages such as Chinese and Japanese; and what is the role of the translator in this process? We will hear from Harvill Secker’s publishing director Elizabeth Foley, Penguin China’s Managing Director Jo Lusby and translators Eric Abrahamsen and Michael Emmerich.

April 17

Bi Feiyu Interviewed by Rosie Goldsmith: Bi Feiyu’s novel The Moon Opera (青衣), translated by Howard Goldblatt was longlisted for the 2008 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize while Three Sisters (玉米 ,玉秀,玉秧), also translated by Goldblatt, won the 2010 Man Asian Literary Prize. In China, his awards include twice winning the Lu Xun Literary Prize, and  the 2011 Mao Dun Prize, the highest national literary award, for Massage.

Ancient Myths in Contemporary Fiction: Alai and Tsering Norbu explore why ancient myths fascinate us until today and how these timeless stories can be brought into the 21st century.

New Perspectives in Chinese and British Literature: Four Chinese writers, Tie Ning, Mo Yan, Alai and Liu Zhenyun as well as their four British counterparts will share ideas on topics such as “maintaining national characteristics in a global context”, “active and diverse literature creation in China (UK), “literature and contemporary life, “literature and social progress and development”, etc.

Chinese Children’s Literature: British readers are all too aware of the British superstars in children’s literature, such as J.K. Rowling, Michael Morpurgo or Julia Donaldson. In an attempt to find out more about the world of Chinese children’s literature, two of China’s most popular authors in this genre—Yang Hongying and  Zheng Yuanjie—join us to discuss their writing.

April 18

Contemporary Chinese Poetry: Contemporary Chinese poetry is constantly evolving, drawing both on the ancient and rich poetic tradition in China as well as on influences from around the world. Xi Chuan and Han Dong, two of China’s most celebrated contemporary poets, read from their work with fellow poet Pascale Petit and reflect on this evocative and though-provoking genre.

Bringing Chinese Poetry to the UK: Chinese poetry has a long and honourable history in English translation – it is nearly 100 years since Arthur Waley’s 170 Chinese Poems was first published. Both the Chinese classics and contemporary poetry, which has flourished in the last three decades, provide rich opportunities for Western publishers. In the last twelve months alone, several new volumes – both anthologies and single-poet volumes have been published in the UK and the USA. Nevertheless there are huge challenges: • Few poetry publishers will have in-depth knowledge of the contemporary Chinese poetry scene. Which poets will be represented? In the West, the label ‘dissident’ sells books, but what does it mean in the Chinese poetry context? • Who will do the translations? The panel will look at collaborative translating (translators + poets) as a practical and creative solution. • Promoting the unfamiliarand finding new audiences. How much contextualization is needed when introducing new poetry (whether classical or contemporary) to readers? How important are promotional events or readings, if at all? Panelists Nicky Harman, Bill Herbert, Brian Holton and Yang Lian, will discuss all this and more with chair David Constantine.

Contemporary China on the Page: Chinese society has been undergoing monumental changes and is constantly evolving under the influence of China’s changing status in the world. Chi Zijian, Feng Tang and fellow author Xinran discuss how contemporary literature is reflecting these transformations and the effect they have on the life of Chinese people today.

Rural China: Amidst rapid urbanization, the rural setting in contemporary fiction has acquired new meaning in China. Authors Mo Yan and Li Er debate with literature expert Lu Jiande the role of life outside the city in contemporary fiction, forming the background to explorations of tradition and change.