Chinese Poetry on the Lucien Stryk Shortlist

notwritten_wALTA (the American Literary Translators Association) has announced the shortlist for the 2017 Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize, recognizing the importance of Asian translation for international literature and promoting the translation of Asian works into English.

This year’s judges are Eleanor Goodman, Kendall Heitzman, and Aditi Machado, and they’ve selected Jennifer Feeley’s translation of Not Written Words 不是文字, by Hong Kong writer Xi Xi 西西 for the shortlist. The judges write:

Jennifer Feeley’s superb translation captures all of the creativity, intellect, and playfulness in the verse of premier Hong Kong poet Xi Xi. In these skillfully wrought and daring poems, Feeley employs all the tools of the English language, including unforced end and internal rhyme, alliteration, wordplay, and references that run the gamut from nursery rhymes and fairy tales to fine art to contemporary politics. In deceptively lighthearted poems such as “Excerpt from a Feminist Dictionary,” the verse rings as powerfully in the English as it does in the original Chinese. This translation is essential reading, providing a window into the rich literature of Hong Kong and the larger Sinophone world.

Also shortlisted are two works of Korean poetry, Brother Anthony of Taizé’s translation of Night-Sky Checkerboard by Oh Sae-young, and Kim Yideum’s Cheer Up: Femme Fatale, translated by Ji Yoon Lee, Don Mee Choi, and Johannes Göransson.

Click on the image above for the shortlist in full.

Turner’s Lu Xun in Seedings

seedings1-f-coverIssue 1 of the new journal Seedings is now out, featuring a great collection of work by some of English’s best poets: Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Nathaniel Tarn, Rosmarie Waldrop, Will Alexander… and translators: Keith Waldrop (Paul Verlaine), Cole Swensen (Jaime Montestrela), Johannes Göransson (Sara Tuss Efrik)…

Worth mention on this blog are the three new translations by Matt Turner of prose poems by Lu Xun 魯迅. From “Waking” 一覺:

Planes on a mission to drop bombs, like the start of class at school every morning, fly over Beijing. Everytime I hear the sound of their parts pound the air I repeatedly feel a light tension, as though witnessing a “death” raid. But at the same time intensely feeling the “birth” of existence.

飛機負了擲下炸彈的使命,像學校的上課似的,每日上午在北京城上飛行。每聽得機件搏擊空氣的聲音,我常覺到一種輕微的緊張,宛然目睹了「死」的襲來,但同時也深切地感著「生」的存在。隱約聽到一二爆發聲以後,飛機嗡嗡地叫著,冉冉地飛去了。也許有人死傷了罷,然而天下卻似乎更顯得太平。窗外的白楊的嫩葉,在日光下發烏金光。

Click the image above to access the issue.

Letter from Hong Kong on Your Impossible Voice

Xi Chuan reading at International Poetry Nights. Photo by Lucas Klein.Your Impossible Voice has published my “Letter from Hong Kong,” about the International Poetry Nights.

Reviewing exiled Chinese poet Bei Dao’s first full-length collection The August Sleepwalker in English in 1990, a professor quipped, “These could just as easily be translations from a Slovak or an Estonian or a Philippine poet. It could even be a kind of American poetry….”

From a certain perspective—say, that of the seventeenth century—the reviewer was right … But from the perspective of poetry today, which is to say, from the perspective of people who habitually, consciously, and conscientiously read contemporary poetry around the world, do all cultures and languages and poetries blend together?

We have not had Slovak or Estonian poets, but Albanian poet Luljeta Lleshanaku, from the 2009 festival, and Russian Arkadii Dragomoshchenko and Slovene Tomaž Šalamun, from 2011, may serve as sufficient examples, as will 2013 Filipina participant Conchitina Cruz and American Jeffrey Yang.

And then I translate Chen Maiping’s 陳邁平 Chinese translation of Aase Berg’s Swedish poetry into English, to compare against the English by Johannes Göransson.

Click on the image above for the whole piece.

Johannes Göransson on Aase Berg / Ye Mimi / Tomas Tranströmer / Translation Studies

5_Ye_Mimi_photoOver at Montevidayo, Johannes Göransson has posted “Exploded Tranströmer: On Ye Mimi and Translation.” A hyperopticon of connections, it links Taiwanese poet Ye Mimi 葉覓覓 to Nobel lit. prizewinner Tomas Tranströmer via what Swedish poet Aase Berg’s reading:

A few months ago, after she came back from the Hong Kong poetry festival, Aase Berg wrote to me that she had come across an amazing poet: Ye Mimi. (Apparently YM appeared with a very impressive guitar player as well.)

That is funny because when I first read Ye Mimi what came to my mind was a somewhat controversial article Aase wrote in Expressen after Tomas Tranströmer won the Nobel Prize the other year … Ye Mimi’s poems are wonderful in that way: as “banality and surprising intelligence in unexpected union.” In fact they read a little like Tranströmer poems in which the metaphors flip out, go off in tangents. And a Tranströmer poem in which the tenor of the metaphor is not privileged – not over the vehicle, not over the “banal” everyday stuff (pink hoodies, telephone booths etc).

From there, he indicates a critique of Translation Studies as it’s come to be known under the direction of Lawrence Venuti, which he says “quarantines the work in translation: we never have the work in translation.”

Click the image above to read the post in full.

Notes on the Mosquito a Finalist for Best Translated Book Award!

From the Poetry Foundation & the Three Percent blog:

John Felstiner said translation is like a window. It lets some fresh air in and allows some stale air to drift out. Here are seven books of poetry from around the world that offer some of the freshest air possible into American poetry. The Best Translated Book Awards was started by Chad Post, editor of Open Letter and founder of the blog Three Percent. This was my fifth year serving as a judge for this award and every year I have been astounded by the lyricism and innovative approaches to translation and poetry we’ve found in the books nominated for the prize. If you are looking for a book of poetry to take the top of your head off, you couldn’t go wrong with one of the finalists on this list. A discussion of these astounding books will appear on Three Percent next week:

2013 Best Translated Book Award: Poetry Finalists

Transfer Fat by Aase Berg, translated from the Swedish by Johannes Göransson (Ugly Duckling Press; Sweden).

pH Neutral History by Lidija Dimkovska, translated from the Macedonian by Ljubica Arsovska and Peggy Reid (Copper Canyon Press; Macedonia).

The Invention of Glass by Emmanuel Hocquard, translated from the French by Cole Swensen and Rod Smith (Canarium Books; France).

Wheel with a Single Spoke by Nichita Stanescu, translated from the Romanian by Sean Cotter (Archipelago Books; Romania).

Notes on the Mosquito by Xi Chuan, translated from the Chinese by Lucas Klein (New Directions; China).

Almost 1 Book / Almost 1 Life by Elfriede Czurda, translated from the German by Rosmarie Waldrop (Burning Deck; Austria).

A truly humbling gathering of poets & translators to be put together with!