The Moving Target: Translation and Chinese Poetry at Leiden

On 1–2 June 2018, an international group of scholars will meet at Leiden University to discuss fifteen papers that bring together expert knowledge on poetry in Chinese and critical engagement with the notion of translation. Texts, authors, and issues discussed range from the ancient Book of Songs to 21st-century migrant worker poetry and from Yu Xiuhua in English to Paul Celan in Chinese. The papers highlight the richness of the study of interlingual and cultural translation, with Chinese poetry as a shining example.

The workshop is open to all and you are welcome to attend any or all of the presentations.

Attending the workshop will be Joseph Allen, Lucas Klein, Nicholas Morrow Williams, Zhou Min, Tara Coleman, Chris Song, Christopher Lupke, Jenn Marie Nunes, Liansu Meng, Joanna Krenz, Jacob Edmond, Eleanor Goodman, Nick Admussen, Rui Kunze, Maghiel van Crevel, and Wilt Idema.

Click the image for further information, including a full schedule with paper titles.

Edmond on Being Censored in Chinese

At his blog, Jacob Edmond writes about being censored in a Chinese publication. Edmond reviewed Maghiel van Crevel’s Chinese Poetry in Times of Mind, Mayhem and Money (2008) for The China Quarterly in 2011, and agreed for it to be translated into Chinese for the Journal of Modern Chinese Studies (现代中文学刊). But,

the Chinese version [of van Crevel’s book] lacks the chapter on “Exile,” which includes discussion of poems written by Bei Dao 北岛, Wang Jiaxin 王家新, and Yang Lian 杨炼 after the Chinese government’s violent 4 June 1989 suppression of dissent.

And as a result, Edmond’s review had to be censored as well.

In approving the translation of my review, I faced the same dilemma that Van Crevel and these publishers and editors face in deciding whether to allow their work to be censored: refuse to change anything and so lose the possibility of addressing a Chinese audience, or make the changes and hope that one’s translated words and the mute marks of censored omissions might communicate better than the total silence of refusal. Van Crevel’s is an excellent book on contemporary Chinese poetry: I stand by my review’s description of it as the “definitive sourcebook.” It therefore deserves a wide audience in China, where its insights are most relevant. Cutting one chapter was the price of that audience.

But, as he continues, “The pressures and choices are not, of course, the same in every situation.” He concludes with lessons that are, “like censorship itself, eminently—and frighteningly—translatable.”

Click the image above for his full blog entry.

Lingnan Symposium on Translation & Modern Chinese Poetry

Moving the Goalposts:
Symposium on Translation and Modern Chinese Poetry

龍門陣:翻譯與現代中文詩歌研討會

16 June 2017
LBYG06, Lingnan University
9:30–18:30

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.

A Common Strangeness runner-up for ASAP 2013 Prize

headerASAP

Jacob Edmond’s A Common Strangeness has been named runner-up for the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present 2013 Book Prize. ASAP’s citation reads:

In this remarkable book, comparative literature outdoes itself, becoming fully contemporary and transnational: Edmond innovates a genuinely global poetics that discovers the fullest cultural crossings among Chinese, Russian, and U.S. poets. Reading correspondences among Yang Lian, Arkadii Dragomoshchenko, and Lyn Hejinian, Bei Dao, Dmitri Prigov, and Charles Bernstein, among others, Edmond aims to give a field “still shaped by the history and conceptual and political structures of the Cold War” the resources to read the “appositional, transnational, and multicultural poetics of our current era”; its focus is contemporary poetry’s “common commitment to forms of strangeness,” which disallow old assertions of what unites or foreignizes the world’s populations.  And its great advantage is a sense of literary culture equally powerful in its three languages, which translates to interpretive insight uniquely adequate to the world today.

Three Reviews of Jacob Edmond’s A Common Strangeness

Three new reviews of Jacob Edmond’s A Common Strangeness have appeared. Brian Reed’s “Chances of Rhyme“:

The words transnational and globalization appear frequently within scholarship on contemporary poetry, but so far there have been few sustained attempts to narrate recent developments across more than two language-groups or geographical regions. … In the present era of pervasive budget cuts, curtailed language instruction, and increased productivity demands, who has the training, time, and resources required to engage in even more broad-based comparative research?

At least one person can now be said to fill the bill. Jacob Edmond’s A Common Strangeness: Contemporary Poetry, Cross-Cultural Encounter, Comparative Literature recounts the history of avant-garde poetry from the late 1960s to the turn of the millennium in the United States, the People’s Republic of China, and the Soviet Union/Russian Federation. Edmond concentrates on six figures: Yang Lian and Bei Dao, menglong shiren (Misty Poets) who defied Cultural Revolution-era restrictions on writerly freedom; Arkadii Dragomoshchenko and Dmitri Prigov, samizdat poets whose careers extend into the post-Soviet period; and Lyn Hejinian and Charles Bernstein, founding members of the avant-garde movement known as Language poetry. Throughout, Edmond shows himself to be thoroughly grounded in the relevant literary traditions, and whether a given poem is written in English, Russian, or Mandarin, he proves able to supply the kind of intensive, patient, erudite textual analysis that one associates with the Yale school back in its heyday.

And Lisa Samuels’s “Bridges Across Silos“:

Jacob Edmond’s refreshing book focuses on concerns common to avant-garde poetry and comparative literature, specifically poetic material produced primarily in the 1980s and 1990s by six writers from China, Russia, and the United States and comparative literature’s interest in negotiating dialectics between self and other. Edmond’s introduction indicates his interest in sighting a ‘third alternative’ to Maurice Blanchot’s 1971 concept of ‘common strangeness’: Edmond wants to write within zones ‘between the common and the co-man, between speaking of others—of exile literature, modernism, or world literature—and speaking to them: responding to how we can know or write about each other in the first place.’ … The book stays true to the dialectical energy promised in its introduction. That energy shifts its sails in relevant directions, and it consistently concerns matters both brought forward and presumed as background to this work.
While many comparative literary studies have used textual and contextual analysis to examine authors and literary movements so as to show commonalities and differences, Edmond employs a different methodology. The domestic political and literary contexts, although a constant presence in the background, are only lightly sketched, and focus is directed on the concerns that have shaped the work of these authors in the world, as members of a transnational poetic community. Translation is yet another diffused activity that touches upon the selected creative and conceptual practices, providing an extra motive for gathering these poets together in this book.

Jacob Edmond on Cosima Bruno on Yang Lian’s Poetry through Translation

from Jacob Edmond’s A Common Strangeness blog:

Bruno_Between–the-linesI’d like to draw your attention to a book published by Cosima Bruno and described below, entitled Between the Lines: Yang Lian’s Poetry through Translation. Bruno’s book makes a case for studying translations as a method of reading poetry. I’m mentioning the book here because I think it may be of interest to readers of this blog but may not otherwise enter into conversations within English-language poetry since it focuses on the work of Chinese poet Yang Lian––about whom I’ve also written in A Common Strangeness.

Jonathan Stalling Reviews Jacob Edmond’s A Common Strangeness

200MCLC has published Jonathan Stalling’s review of Jacob Edmond’s A Common Strangeness: Contemporary Poetry, Cross-Cultural Encounter, Comparative Literature. Here’s how it begins:

To begin with, Jacob Edmond’s new book, A Common Strangeness, is anything but common and signals what I hope will be a new trend toward more ambitious studies of late-modernist to contemporary poetics on a global scale. While it might be premature to announce the arrival of a “global poetics,” there is a pressing need for a space to explore this genre specific cognate of World Literature, a space to reimagine what in China operates under the title: comparative poetics (比较诗学). This is a robust area of academic research in China, yet it tends to reduce poetry and poetics to the pre WWII traditional canon: Plato, Aristotle, and Longinus; Sidney, Pope, and Johnson; Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Emerson; Poe, Arnold, and Eliot; and perhaps Frost, Williams, Hughes, and, because it is China, Pound. In English literary criticism today, however, the term “poetics” often demarks poetry discourses consciously connected to avant-garde practice along the vectors of a more radical canon: Blake, Whitman, Stein, Pound, Zukofsky, Olson, Mac Low/John Cage to Susan Howe, Lyn Hejinian and others associated with the so-called LANGUAGE poets from the 1970s forward through neo-conceptual poetry, etc … One should also mention that scholars tracking trends in contemporary poetics in the West have remained problematically Anglophonocentric and have largely failed to attend to poetic shifts on a global scale unless such shifts are explicitly conversant in the idioms of innovative English-based poetics (including those within the Sinophone sphere). So while no single volume could ever hope to connect the multitudinous and heterogeneous threads of a “global poetics,” A Common Strangeness succeeds in moving in this direction in part by offering a critical lens (strangeness) through which to view poetry on a global scale.

Click the image above for the full review.

Vitaly Chernetsky reviews Jacob Edmond’s A Common Strangeness

Vitaly Chernetsky has reviewed Jacob Edmond’s A Common Strangeness. It begins:

Jacob Edmond has written a remarkable book—impassioned, theoretically astute, and timely—that deserves to garner significant response across many fields in the humanities. The tasks it sets to accomplish—and succeeds admirably in doing so—are manifold. First, it presents a compelling new vision for the role and relevance of the discipline of comparative literature in our rapidly changing times. Second, it argues for the continuing intellectual and political relevance of contemporary poetry and its aesthetic and cognitive projects in the context of globalization, despite the short shrift this form of writing often gets in grand cultural models and the neglect or condescension towards it from many writing on globalization from the disciplinary standpoint of the social sciences. And last but not least, it triangulates between the literary traditions—Chinese, Russian, and American—that to my knowledge have never been considered together at such extent in a book project, with the traditional locus of much comparatist writing, West European literatures, only serving as a foil in the argument the author builds. At best, these national literatures usually appear in comparative models, if at all, in binary structures, juxtaposed with the dominant West European center. A Common Strangeness therefore takes an original and unexpected spin on the call to “provincialize Europe” that has been pronounced by a number of scholars of literature and culture of non-(West) European background.

Click the image for the full review.

Jacob Edmond on Yang Lian & John Cayley

Where the Sea Stands StillJacob Edmond of A Common Strangeness has a new post at Jacket2‘s  “Iterations” series titled “From Sea to Screen: Yang Lian and John Cayley’s iterations.” Here’s how it begins:

The long poem “Dahai tingzhi zhi chu” 大海停止之处 by Yang Lian 杨炼 and its transformation into the collaborative digital and performance piece Where the Sea Stands Still illustrate an iterative response to digital technologies and globalization. The iterative structure of Yang Lian’s long poem produces an expanding sense of space and geography that, like the title, combines perpetual repetition with continuous change.