Modern Chinese Literature and Culture has published Wei-chieh Tsai’s review of The Borderlands of Asia: Culture, Place, Poetry, edited by Mark Bender. Tsai writes:
this book is a collection of poems penned by writers from various Asian border regions—Northeast India, Myanmar, the Southwest and Inner Asian frontiers of China, and Mongolia. Although some of the poems, especially those by Northeast Indian poets, were originally written in English, most are translations—from Burmese, Mongolian, Chinese, Tibetan, Nuoso, Hani, Khasi, and Manipuri—done by a group of translators. In translating these poems into English, the global “language of interaction” (p. xxi), the voices of poets from the borderlands of Asia can be heard by a wider audience. Bender’s informative introduction gives his readers a broad context for understanding the complicated histories and cultures of the areas and the poets included in the volume.
The new issue of Chinese Literature Todaycontains a feature, curated by Mark Bender, of poems by ethnic minority poets from southwest China and Inner Mongolia. The featured poets include Aku Wuwu (Apkup Vytvy) 阿库乌雾, Altai 阿尔泰, Asu Yue’er 阿苏越尔, Baoyinhexige 宝音贺希格, Burao Yilu 布饶依露, Mushasijia Eni 俄尼·牧莎斯加, Lu Juan 鲁娟, Ma Deqing 马德清, Mo Du 莫独, Qiangrenliu 羌人六, Sha Ma 沙马, and Yangzi 羊子. Here’s an excerpt from the intro:
As a multi-ethnic state, China is comprised of fifty-six officially recognized ethnic groups. The Han ethnic group (Hanzu) is the majority group, comprising over 91 percent of the population. The fifty-five ethnic minority groups (shaoshu minzu) live mostly in China’s vast borderlands, an arc stretching from northeast to southwest, traversing ecosystems that range from birch and evergreen forest to steppe, to broken uplands, to jungle. In recent decades individuals and communities from many of these ethnic groups have increasingly interfaced with modern urban culture via political programs and economic development. As China has opened and globalized, traditional cultures across the land have been impacted and dynamically transformed. Resource extraction, floating populations of young workers, new technologies, and localized phenomena like ethnic tourism and “intangible cultural heritage” projects are all part of the complex nature of ethnic minority communities today. Since the 1980s the vibrant voices of literally thousands of ethnic minority writers and poets have been heard from all over the country. Among the most exciting voices are those of poets who, in this era of great change, often express uncertainty and ambivalence over the rapidity and nature of the change taking place before their very eyes.
Aku Wuwu 阿库乌雾, well-known Nuosu 诺苏语 poet of the Yi 彝 ethnic group, will be speaking at the Ohio State University on September 24 (7:00-9:00 p.m., Hagerty Hall 388, Columbus, OH), to promote Tiger Traces, edited with Mark Bender.
Unique among Yi poets, he writes in both Chinese and Nuosu. He will respond to various questions about his experience growing up in southern Sichuan, the craft of writing and performing poetry, the significance of mother tongue literature and local knowledge, and the contemporary ethnic poetry gatherings held Chengdu tea houses and other venues.
The talk will be conducted primarily in Chinese, though English translation will be available. For more information, click the image above.