Last October Brooklyn Rail published a new poem by Michael Palmer titled “His Artificial Lover Sings a Wordless Song,” which mentions Xi Chuan. Here’s an excerpt:
Will the despoilers have it all
to themselves? Even the textured sky?
Xi Chuan, we often ask the same
questions it seems, or is it simply
that together we studied the stars
in Mechanicsville? Orion’s Belt shown,
the Sisters and the Drinking Gourd.
sundered the next.
Read the whole poem here.
On his blog at Jacket2 Charles Bernstein has posted Yunte Huang’s 黃運特introduction to his 1997 book SHI: A Radical Reading of Chinese Poetry. Huang has since become one of the foremost figures in Chinese – American literary studies, translating Ezra Pound and Michael Palmer into Chinese, and writing the scholarly books Transpacific Imaginations and Transpacific Displacement, as well as the recent Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History. Here’s how Huang’s intro to SHI begins:
This book is not an attempt to grasp the “essence” of Chinese poetry, nor is it an endeavor to produce an over-polished version of English that claims aesthetic superiority over other works in the same field. It grapples rather with the nature of translation and poetry, and explores poetic issues from the perspective of translation and translation issues from the perspective of poetry. Looking from such a vantage point, translation is no longer able to hide itself in our blind spot; instead, the often-invisible face of translation is being brought to the foreground of poetic texture and the traces of translation’s needle work are being exposed to the reader’s view. With its agenda hidden, translation is too often a handyman for the metaphysical, mystical, or universal notion of poetry. When emerging from obscurity, translation becomes an ally with poetic material and enacts the wordness of the words. And this book strives to strengthen the alliance between translation and poetry through various textual and conceptual means that I will discuss now.
Congrats to Andrea Lingenfelter for winning the Northern California Book Awards for her translation of The Changing Room (Zephyr Press), a collection of poems by Zhai Yongming 翟永明. Click here for my my review of The Changing Room, and here for the full list of NCBA nominees and winners (Michael Palmer won in the category of poetry for his New Directions book Thread).