The Organization of Distance: Poetry, Translation, Chineseness

Announcing the publication of

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The Organization of Distance
Poetry, Translation, Chineseness

by Lucas Klein

What makes a Chinese poem “Chinese”? Some call modern Chinese poetry insufficiently Chinese, saying it is so influenced by foreign texts that it has lost the essence of Chinese culture as known in premodern poetry. Yet that argument overlooks how premodern regulated verse was itself created in imitation of foreign poetics. Looking at Bian Zhilin 卞之琳 and Yang Lian 楊煉 in the twentieth century alongside medieval Chinese poets such as Wang Wei 王維, Du Fu 杜甫, and Li Shangyin 李商隱, The Organization of Distance applies the notions of foreignization and nativization to Chinese poetry to argue that the impression of poetic Chineseness has long been a product of translation, from forces both abroad and in the past.

Sinica Leidensia, 141
Brill,
19 July 2018

ISBN: 978-90-04-37537-6

e-book
€44.00 /
US$53.00

hardback:
€49.00 / US$59.00

 

Li Shangyin Book Launch at Greenlight, Brooklyn

An Evening Celebrating Li Shangyin

Fort Greene store:
Wednesday, August 1, 7:30 PM
An Evening Celebrating Li Shangyin
With Chloe Garcia Roberts and Lucas Klein
Wine reception to follow

Greenlight is thrilled to present an evening celebrating Li Shangyin, foremost poet of the late Tang dynasty, on the occasion of a new translation of his work published by the New York Review of Books. This new collection presents Chloe Garcia Roberts’s translations of a wide selection of Li’s verse in the company of other versions by the prominent sinologist A. C. Graham and the scholar-poet Lucas Klein. Combining hedonistic aestheticism with stark fatalism, Li’s poetry is an intoxicating mixture of pleasure and grief, desire and loss, everywhere imbued with a singular nostalgia for the present moment. Rarely translated into English, Li’s work has an esotericism and sensuality that sets him apart from the austere masters of the Chinese literary canon. Garcia Roberts and Klein read and discuss Li’s work during this event, followed by a signing, Q&A, and a wine reception to follow.

Event date: Wednesday, August 1, 2018 – 7:30pm

Event address: 686 Fulton street, Brooklyn, NY 11217

Click here for the Facebook event page.

By Li Shangyin, Chloe Garcia Roberts (Translator), A. C. Graham (Translator), Lucas Klein (Translator)
$16.00
ISBN: 9781681372242
Availability: Coming Soon – Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: New York Review of Books – July 31st, 2018

Klein on Holton’s Narrative Poem by Yang Lian

Free first pageMy review of Narrative Poem 敘事诗, by Yang Lian 杨炼 and translated by Brian Holton (Bloodaxe, 2017), is out in the new issue of Translation and Literature (Vol. 27, issue 2).

It’s paywalled but for subscribers and certain academic institutions, but here’s a paragraph free:

That so much of Yang Lian’s poetics – indeed, his mythopoetics – centres on the Chinese past is a particular challenge for Holton as translator. Of course, some critics from China and elsewhere have accused Yang of writing a China of and for western understanding – but why not? In any event, that it is for westerners to understand does not make it easier to translate. Holton has not shied away from providing notes to mark moments where Yang makes allusions to people and places that fall outside the expected anglophone frame of reference. Mostly, however, it is in the strength of his diction that the power of his verse lies, just as the force of Yang Lian’s word choice is what makes his poetry most compelling in Chinese. The thought and emotion of Yang Lian’s writing are immanent in the words he uses – and the same is true of Holton’s translations.

Click the image above to link to the full review.

Newman Prize Nominees Announced

The nominee list for the 2019 Newman Prize for Chinese Literature has been announced!
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Convened by Jonathan Stalling at the University of Oklahoma, this year’s judges are Nick Admussen, Eleanor Goodman, Tammy Ho Lai-ming, Lucas Klein, Christopher Lupke, Maghiel van Crevel, and Wang Guangming 王光明.
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This year’s finalists are Yu Xiuhua 余秀华, Wang Xiaoni 王小妮, Xi Xi 西西, Xi Chuan 西川, Xiao Kaiyu 萧开愚, Zheng Xiaoqiong 郑小琼, and Bei Dao 北岛.
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The winner will be announced in the spring of 2019.

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.

Return of Pratik features Contemporary Chinese Poetry

After a decade-long hiatus, Pratik, the English-language Nepali literary journal, is resuming publication–and with a feature of contemporary Chinese poetry including Xi Chuan, Duo Duo 多多, Jidi Majia 吉狄马加, Chen Si’an 陈思安, Zheng Xiaoqiong 郑小琼, Yuan Yongping 袁永苹, Li Yawei 李亚伟, and Shen Wei 沈苇.
Translations of Xi Chuan & Duo Duo by Lucas Klein; other translations by Jami Proctor Xu, Eleanor Goodman, Zhou Xiaojing, Tim Hathaway, and Yuyutsu Sharma with Hao Lin.
Pratik is edited by Yuyutsu Sharma.
Click for the report by The Kathmandu Tribune. For the Pratik blog, click the image.

Klein’s Duo Duo in Asian Cha

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The new issue of Cha: An Asian Literary Journal is now live, and with it my translations of two new poems by Duo Duo 多多, “A Fine Breeze Comes” 好风来 and “Light Coming from Before, Sing: Leave” 从前来的光,唱:离去.

tomorrow’s already past
already offered
the past is still unknown
already spokenthe limit belongs to you
nobody can have that name

明天已经过去
已经给予
过去仍是未知的
已经说出 止境属于你
无人能有那名

Also in the issue are Bonnie McDougall’s translations of poems by Ng Mei-kwan 吳美筠, Jennifer Feeley’s translation of fiction by Xi Xi 西西, fiction by Eileen Chang 張愛玲 translated by Jane Weizhen Pan & Martin Merz, and Matt Turner reviewing Paul French and Kaitlin Solimine and Eleanor Goodman reviewing Richard Berengarten.
Click the image above to get to the issue.

Cha Reading Series: Nine Dragon Island–Eleanor Goodman & Lucas Klein

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Nine Dragon Island: Eleanor Goodman and Lucas Klein 
Date: Wednesday 28 March 2018
Time: 7:30 – 8:45 p.m.
Venue: Kubrick Bookshop & Café
(
Shop H2, Cinema Block, Prosperous Garden, 3 Public square street, Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon 3號駿發花園 H2地舖)

FREE ADMISSION | ALL ARE WELCOME

In this Cha Reading Series event, contributors Eleanor Goodman and Lucas Klein will discuss poetry, translation, and the writing of China—alongside readings from their recent and forthcoming books, including Goodman’s Nine Dragon Island (Enclave/Zephyr, 2016) and Iron Moon: Chinese Worker Poetry (White Pine, 2017), and Klein’s October Dedications: The Selected Poetry of Mang Ke (Zephyr, 2018) and translations of Li Shangyin (NYRB, 2018). Moderated by Cha co-editor Tammy Ho Lai-Ming.

Click the image above for the Facebook registration page.

NYU Shanghai Conversation on the State of the Art of Chinese Poetry Translation

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Panel Discussion

Chinese Poetry in Translation: A Conversation on the State of the Art

Join a panel of leading translators, scholars of contemporary Chinese poetry, and translation theorists for a conversation about the state of the art in 2018. Discussion will highlight Chinese poets whose work challenges conceptions of a literary “mainstream,” in particular with respect to gender, class, and economic inequality.

Panelists Huiyi Bao 包慧怡 (Fudan), Eleanor Goodman (Harvard Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies), Lucas Klein (University of Hong Kong) and Kyoo Lee (City University of New York) will share and discuss their work in translation and in critical scholarship, ranging from the work of a pioneer of contemporary Chinese poetry like Mang Ke 芒克, co-founder of the legendary journal Jintian 今天 (1978-1980); to the workers poetry written and shared by migrant laborers across China today; to the vital writing by women in a cultural field often dominated by male poets and critics.

  • Room 101, 1555 Century Avenue
  • Wednesday, March 14, 2018 16:3018:00

Click the image above for registration & more information.

Klein’s Ouyang Jianghe in Asymptote

The new issue of Asymptote is now live, featuring sections of my translation of “Taj Mahal Tears” 泰姬陵之泪 by Ouyang Jianghe 欧阳江河.

Tears about to fly. Do they have eagle wings
or take a Boeing 767, taking off on
an economic miracle? Three thousand km of old tears, from Beijing
to New Delhi skies
just like that. After time flies, can the double exposed
red and white of our minds’ oriental archaeologies
match the supersonic, withstand
the miracle’s
sudden turbulence? Can we borrow eagle eyes to watch the sunset
dissolve inside a jellyfish like mica?

泪水就要飞起来。是给它鹰的翅膀呢,
还是让它搭乘波音767,和经济奇迹
一道起飞?三千公里旧泪,就这么从北京
             登上了
新德里的天空。时间起飞之后,我们头脑里
红白两个东方的考古学重影,
能否跟得上超音速,能否经受得起
             神迹的
突然抖动?我们能否借鹰的目力,看着落日
以云母的样子溶解在一朵水母里?

This publication also includes my translator’s note:

The poem is, of course, about the tears that fill relationships between men and women, but it is also about the relationship between god or gods and man as well as the relationship between India and China—not to mention both countries’ relationships to their histories. Parts of the poem take place in, and take advantage of, the vocabulary of fungibility and modernity; other parts excavate an archaeology of historical lexicons, including Buddhist terminology and a broad scope of literary and cultural allusion. As a translator, I had in mind the English of a handful of poets known as practitioners of ethnopoetics, investigating the deep recesses of the self at the same time as the wide resources of the planet. As Ouyang writes, “the mirror image glances back.”

Click on the image for the full excerpt