Nogues on Hong Kong poet Liu Waitong

In a piece titled “‘The protests became a poem‘: Liu Waitong’s ‘Wandering Hong Kong with Spirits,'” new on Jacket2, Collier Nogues reviews Wandering Hong Kong with Spirits 和幽靈一起的香港漫遊, by Liu Waitong 廖偉棠, with translations by Enoch Yee-lok Tam, Desmond Sham, Audrey Heijns, Chan Lai-kuen, and Cao Shuying 曹疏影 (Zephyr Press & MCCM Creations). To my knowledge, this is the first time Jacket2 has paid any attention to poetry translated from Chinese.

Nogues asks, “What is it to be a Hong Kong poet writing now?” She answers:

For Liu Waitong, it means to be accompanied always by ghosts. But it means also to seek them out and keep them company in turn — to haunt with them. Working through questions of displacement, citizenship, and competing visions of Hong Kong’s and China’s future, Liu’s poems insist that a careful attention and receptivity can be revolutionary. For Liu, that attention is what we owe our pasts and each other.

She continues:

Christopher Mattison, the director of the Atlas series of translations of Hong Kong Chinese literature into English, points out in his introduction that it would be a mistake to brand Liu primarily as a political poet. Rather, Mattison says, Liu is a careful observer of Hong Kong, and many things in Hong Kong are inherently political. Perhaps it’s just a matter of emphasis, but I’m not certain that I agree with Mattison here; while it’s true that Liu is indeed a “poet of longing,” as Mattison suggests, “of past eras, former loves, lost neighborhoods, and poetic mentors” (xvi), nothing on that list is separable from politics in the poems or in Hong Kong more generally. When Liu elegizes the demolished Central Star Ferry Pier, for example, he is not only lamenting the loss of a familiar landmark, but also pointedly indicting Hong Kong’s real estate market, which incentivizes the replacement of historic sites with new, more profitable development. In Liu’s poem, the pier shakes its head and sings into the cold rain: “It all will finally disappear to become a postcard sold / for ten dollars. This Hong Kong will disappear and become real property / with an unspecified mortgage” (93).

Click on the image above for the full review.

Contemporary Chinese Poetry in Pangolin House

2016-02-26_1002The new issue of Pangolin House features translations of poems by Liu Wai-tong 廖偉棠 and Zhang Shuguang 张曙光, translated by Diana Shi and George O’Connell.

From Liu Wai-tong’s 讀中唐史 “Mid-Tang History”:

On the riverbank, the rebel army
passing with torches,
singing some barbaric tune.
Let them; I can’t make out a word.
Today, my white shift tattered,
I’m more like a flower.

Click the image above for the full issue.

Chinese Poetry at Epiphany

The journal Epiphany, with Nick Admussen as poetry editor, has published a suite of contemporary Chinese pieces, including the following:

  • Chun Sue 春树 (translated by Martin Winter)
  • Mu Cao 墓草 (translated by Scott E. Myers)
  • Liu Waitong 廖偉棠 (translated by Audrey Heijins)
  • Xiao Kaiyu 肖开愚 (translated by Christopher Lupke)
  • Haizi 海子 (translated by Nick Kaldis)
  • Sai Sai (Xi Xi) 西西 (translated by Jennifer Feeley)
  • Hsia Yü 夏宇 (translated by Steve Bradbury)
  • Yao Feng 姚风 (translated by Tam Hio Man and Kit Kelen)
  • Han Dong 韩东 (translated by Nicky Harman)
  • Huang Lihai 黄礼孩 (translated by Song Zijiang)

Click the image above for an online sample, including pieces by Mu Cao and Hsia Yü:

He says the world is very big
We should go outside and look around
That’s how one wards off sadness
We should go to a gay bathhouse in Beijing
And experience group sex with a hundred people
Or go to Dongdan Park, or Sanlihe, or Madian
And know a different kind of lust
If I could visit Yellow Crane Tower
I’d have new inspiration for writing poems
He says all the great artists
Were fine comrades like us

AAWW’s Four Poems for the Umbrella Movement

Photo by David HillThe Asian American Writers’ Workshop has published four poems on the Occupy Central Umbrella Movement by Hongkong poets Tang Siu Wa, Chung Kwok Keung, Dorothy Tse, and Liu Waitong, as translated by Nicolette Wong, Tammy Ho Lai-Ming, and Amy K. Bell. Edited by Louise Law and introduced by Henry Wei Leung, here’s an excerpt (from Chung Kwok Keung, translated by Ho):

Let’s put silence to a coma in the dark of night
Let’s allow our voice, clear and loud, to be heard at dawn
Occupy, so that it can be put back in place
Sit down, and then stand up, one by one
When our names are called,
Each and every one of us, say: Here.

Click on the image for the full feature.

The Translator and the Translated: A conversation on Hong Kong‘s literature

Asymptote journal makes its debut at the Hong Kong International Literary Festival with acclaimed local journal Fleurs des Lettres (字花), with an evening of bilingual readings and discussions. Local writers Hon Lai Chu 韓麗珠, Dorothy Tse 謝曉虹, and Liu Waitong 廖偉棠 will read excerpts of their work in Cantonese with accompanying English translations. Translators and Asymptote contributors Lucas Klein, Christopher Mattison, and Doug Robinson, will join them for a conversation on the possibilities and challenges of translation, especially of Hong Kong Literature. A reception and an opportunity to engage with the participants will follow the event. The event is generously supported by Yuan Yang, HKU’s journal of international and Hong Kong literature.
Date: 5 Nov 2014
Time: 6 – 8 pm
Venue: HKU Convocation Room, Main Building 429, The University of Hong Kong
Admission is free and open to the public
Please reserve FREE tickets here.

Kwame Dawes on Poetry & China

from Kwame Dawes’s blog about Poetry International Rotterdam:

There is a room in which a remarkable online conversation is going on with thinkers and poets in China. A streaming system is in place and we are having these interviews and conversations with folks in China who have read translations of our poems and while it does not feel like it, we are told that thousands are viewing the stream in China. This strikes me as uncanny. I am not sure what I have said. I read a poem by a man whose pen name is Cricket. It is a fine poem. It is a poem that reminds me of something I heard when I was in Hong Kong: that there exists a fascinating genius of transformation in China that makes ancestral worship secular and non-mystical. It must be by fiat.  It is also by faith. If we believe that they live among us, as so many in Africa and around the world do, then we are actually engaged in reality. I have not stopped thinking about this.

and:

And here is where I can end in praise of poetry festivals like this one. When poets make their personal lists, and especially if they have had a chance to attend such festivals, their lists may not be myopic, limited by geographies and cultures, but may at last begin to engage writers from around the world. For my part, after this week, Roland Jooris, Liu Waitong, Ester Naomi Perquin, Mustafa Stitou, and Yang Lian will occupy my interest for a while. Not bad, not bad at all.

Chinese Poetry Events at Rotterdam

Chinese poetry events at Poetry International Rotterdam:

WEDNESDAY 12 JUNE 2013
 14:00 – 15:00  CHINESE DICHTERS IN LEESZAAL WEST
Leeszaal Rotterdam West : reading
Liu Waitong, Qin Xiaoyu, Yang Lian
 18:30 – 19:30  POETRY READING
Small Auditorium : reading
Ester Naomi Perquin, Ilya Kaminsky, Liu Waitong, Michèle Métail
FRIDAY 14 JUNE 2013
 18:30 – 19:30  MASTER CLASS: ‘HOW TO READ CHINESE POETRY’
Small Auditorium : active poetry
 20:00 – 21:00  CURRENT CHINESE POETRY: ‘I HOPE THE UNIVERSE…
Small Auditorium : special event
 21:30 – 23:00  POETRY READING AND DISCUSSIONS
Small Auditorium : reading  LIVE STREAM
Liu Waitong, Qin Xiaoyu, Yang Lian
SATURDAY 15 JUNE 2013
 14:00 – 16:30  LANGUAGE & ART GALLERY TOUR 2013 – GUIDED TOURS
Foyer : crossovers
Daniel Bănulescu, Ester Naomi Perquin, Qin Xiaoyu
 15:00 – 16:00  TRANSLATION WORKSHOP RESULTS: QIN XIAOYU
Garden Café Floor : translation
 18:30 – 19:30  POETRY READING
Small Auditorium : reading
Daniel Bănulescu, Ken Babstock, Mustafa Stitou, Qin Xiaoyu
 21:30 – 23:00  GATEWAY: FINAL PROGRAM
Main Auditorium : special event  LIVE STREAM
Ilya Kaminsky, James Byrne, Jan Glas, Karinna Alves Gulias, Liu Waitong, Michèle Métail, Qin Xiaoyu, Roland Jooris