“Tiananmen Thirty Years On” feature at Cha

Announcing the June/July issue of Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, the “Tiananmen Thirty Years On” feature, edited by Tammy Lai-Ming Ho and Lucas Klein, along with a special feature of poems by and in mourning of Meng Lang 孟浪.

The following CONTRIBUTORS have generously allowed us to showcase their work:

❀ REMEMBRANCES
Tammy Lai-Ming Ho, Gregory Lee, Ding Zilin (translated by Kevin Carrico), Andréa Worden, Shuyu Kong (with translations of poems by Colin Hawes), Ai Li Ke, Anna Wang, and Sara Tung

❀ POETRY
Bei Dao (translated by Eliot Weinberger), Duo Duo (translated by Lucas Klein), Liu Xiaobo (translated by Ming Di), Xi Chuan (translated by Lucas Klein), Yang Lian (translated by Brian Holton), Xi Xi (translated by Jennifer Feeley), Meng Lang (translated by Anne Henochowicz), Lin Zhao (translated by Chris Song), Liu Waitong (translated by Lucas Klein), Chan Lai Kuen (translated by Jennifer Feeley), Mei Kwan Ng (translated by the author), Yibing Huang (translated by the author), Ming Di (translated by the author), Anthony Tao, Aiden Heung, Kate Rogers, Ken Chau, Ilaria Maria Sala, Ian Heffernan, Reid Mitchell, Lorenzo Andolfatto, Joseph T. Salazar

❀ ESSAYS
Scott Savitt, Wang Dan (translated by Karl Lund), Hoi Leung, Louisa Lim, Jeff Wasserstrom, Lian-Hee Wee, Jed Lea-Henry, Jason G. Coe, and Guo Ting

❀ INTERVIEW
Han Dongfang and Lucas Klein

❀ FICTION
Boshun Chan (translated by Garfield Chow, Stephanie Leung and Felix Lo) and Christopher New

❀ PHOTOGRAPHY & ART
Daniel Garrett and Anonymous

❀ MENG LANG
Denis Mair, Meng Lang (translated by Denis Mair), Liu Waitong (translated by Lucas Klein), Jacky Yuen (translated by Nick Admussen), Tang Siu Wa (translated by Jennifer Feeley), Kwan Tin Lam (translated by Eleanor Goodman)

Click on the link above to read the issue in full.

Denis Mair on Meng Lang

Three poets come to Bumbershoot

In honor of the passing of Meng Lang 孟浪 (1961 – 2018) on December 12 in Hong Kong, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal has published a commemorative piece by Denis Mair, his friend and translator:

All these details are just the outer lineaments of Meng Lang’s life, but his true story—his true biography–lies in the trajectory of his poems. He was a poet who found his own unique path to write about the social, political realities of his country in the language of modern, avant-garde thought. As a poet he always faced political realities, never going down a rabbit hole of metaphysics or aestheticism, yet each poem demonstrates his powerful artistic sensibility. I reaped tremendous reward by translating over a hundred of his poems, and I am proud that he trusted me with his beautiful creations.

Later this month Cha will publish a feature on Meng Lang and his place in poetry, with poems by Meng translated by Mair, as well as poems by Hong Kong writers Tang Siu Wa 鄧小樺, Jacky Yuen 熒惑, Kwan Tin-Lam 關天林, and Liu Waitong 廖偉棠 remembering Meng–as translated by Jennifer Feeley, Nick Admussen, Eleanor Goodman, and Lucas Klein.

Click here for Mair’s commemoration.

The 2018 Lucien Stryk Prize

DarkeningMirrorFinalCoversThe 2018 Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize shortlist has been announced, with Diana Shi and George O’Connell’s Darkening Mirror, translations of Wang Jiaxin 王家新 (Tebot Bach) on the list. Congratulations to Shi and O’Connell!
But a look at the rest of the list: There’s Sonic Peace, by Kiriu Minashita, translated by Eric E. Hyett and Spencer Thurlow
(Phoneme Media), which is poetry. But Junichirō Tanizaki’s Devils in Daylight, translated by J. Keith Vincent, and The Maids, translated by Michael P. Cronin (both New Directions), and Notes of a Crocodile by Qiu Miaojin 邱妙津, as translated by Bonnie Huie (New York Review Books)? Those are works of fiction.
The Stryk Prize is–or was–a poetry translation prize. The prize’s Wikipedia page still makes that clear:
Eligible works include book-length translations into English of Asian poetry or source texts from Zen Buddhism, book-length translations from Hindi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean into English.
But this year, for the first time, works of prose fiction are on the shortlist.
I think this is a problem.
Seems to me that the Stryk prize was endowed with the mission of promoting a certain kind of work–translation of poetry and Zen texts from Asian languages. I believe in, and I’d bet a lot of translators believe in, the room to interpret those categories broadly. But for the Stryk nominations to be suddenly–and without public consultation–open to works of fiction, the poetry translations in question are bound to be crowded out, not recognized or promoted.
A look at Paper Republic’s wrap-up of translations published in 2017 gives a sense of what I’m talking about, even if it also offers an idea why some might want the prize to be eligible to translated fiction. Something like twenty titles of fiction translated from Chinese, but only five books of poetry. And yet look at that list: Liu Waitong 廖偉棠, one of Hong Kong’s most interesting poets; Narrative Poem 敘事诗, by Yang Lian 杨炼, translated by Brian Holton, and two titles translated by Eleanor Goodman (who won the Stryk in 2015 for her translations of Wang Xiaoni 王小妮), including the anthology Iron Moon, the most reviewed anthology of Chinese poetry to appear in English in decades. I think it’s scandalous that neither Goodman nor Holton are on this year’s Stryk shortlist. Which just goes to show: if poetry is going to compete with fiction, and if the judges are primarily translators of fiction, then poetry translators are not going to get recognized. Are they?
Word is that ALTA didn’t make this change to increase the number of submissions, but rather simply received submissions of fiction from overzealous publishers. They asked the source of the funding about whether prose was eligible, and the source seemed not to have any issues with the eligibility of fiction. So the description of the award was revised.
But this is a problem not only because of crowding out poetry (which indeed already gets the short end of the proverbial stick when it comes to modern Asian literature), but also because this change was not done transparently. If this was really going to be a prize that includes prose, then more presses that published prose translations should have been informed so they could submit their books. Not to mention how this affects the translators–as well as the poets in Asia hoping to gain readership in translation (I don’t know about poets in other countries, but Chinese-language writers are very aware of the Stryk Prize). The more I think about it, the bigger I think this problem is.
Good luck to this year’s shortlisted candidates!

Tsang on Liu Waitong’s “Wandering Hong Kong with Spirits”

The “Writing Hong Kong” issue of Cha features Janice Tsang’s review of Wandering Hong Kong with Spirits 和幽靈一起的香港漫遊 by Liu Waitong 廖偉棠 (Zephyr Press / MCCM Creations), with translations by Enoch Yee-lok Tam, Desmond Sham, Audrey Heijins, Chan Lai-kuen and Cao Shuying.

Tsang writes:

While reading Wandering Hong Kong, I was constantly reminded of the idea of “disappearance” in Ackbar Abbas’ book Hong Kong: Culture and the Politics of Disappearance—disappearance not in the sense of vanishing and irreparable loss, but of displaced appearances. Photography is very potent in demonstrating this kind of “disappearance,” as it simultaneously captures and freezes time in a frame, while also creating the realm of the image in the form of the artist’s own unique representation. One is also always aware of selectivity and perspectives when doing photography.

Liu Waitong’s poetry is very much in tune with his observations of the world as a photographer.

Click on the image for the full review.

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.