Call for Submissions–The Ancient Asia Issue of CHA

Cha: An Asian Literary Journal is now accepting submissions for “The Ancient Asia Issue,” an edition of the journal devoted exclusively to work from and about Asia before the mid-nineteenth century.
From the beginning of the twentieth century, ancient Asia has contributed to the rebirth and re-imaginations of modern literatures, not only in English (from Ezra Pound to Gary Snyder) but in other western languages as well (Victor Segalen, Octavio Paz, Bertolt Brecht…). “The Ancient Asia Issue” of Cha seeks to revivify this tradition, featuring translations and original works of poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, and visual art from and about Ancient Asia, to be published in September 2013. If you have something interesting, opinionated, or fresh to say about the Asian past, we would like to hear from you. Please note that we can only accept submissions in English.
We are pleased to announce that Cha former contributor, translator and scholar Lucas Klein will be joining Cha as guest editor for the issue and read the submissions with co-editors Tammy Ho and Jeff Zroback.
The Reviews section will be devoted exclusively to books related to the theme of the issue. If you have a recent book that you think would be right for review in “The Ancient Asia Issue”, we encourage you to contact our Reviews Editor Eddie Tay at eddie@asiancha.com. Books should be sent to Eddie before the end of May 2013.
If you would like to have work considered for “The Ancient Asia Issue”, please submit by email to submissions@asiancha.com by 20th June, 2013. Please include “The Ancient Asia Issue” in the subject line of the email. Submissions to the issue should conform to our guidelines.

Notes on the Mosquito on WLT’s 75 Notable Translations 2012

World Literature Today has posted its list of seventy-five notable translations for 2012, and it features my translation of Xi Chuan’s Notes on the Mosquito: Selected Poems, along with only three other books by East Asian writers.

The list also includes Jeffrey Yang’s translation of June Fourth Elegies 念念六四 by Liu Xiaobo 刘晓波, as well as Eliot Weinberger’s new Poems of Octavio Paz, also published by New Directions.

See the entire list here.

Circumference Podcast: Eliot Weinberger

Montana Ray of Circumference interviews Eliot Weinberger on his translation of Spanish and Chinese poetry:

In this episode celebrated translator and essayist Eliot Weinberger tells how he came to translate Octavio Paz and Bei Dao and talks about the process of translating their work. He discusses how waves of translation in the US have been spurred by changing political realities, and how those translations have impacted contemporary American poetry. The conversation also includes Weinberger’s thoughts on the deeper role of translation, both as a social function (bringing something new into your own language) and as an act (reaching for the inaccessible, unnamable).

Click the image above or listen here:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Poetry Translation Debated

If you’re a poet outside the Anglophone world, and you manage to win the Nobel Prize, two things are likely to happen. First, your ascendancy will be questioned by fiction critics in a major English-­language news publication. Second, there will be a fair amount of pushing and shoving among your translators (if you have any), as publishers attempt to capitalize on your 15 minutes of free media attention.

So begins David Orr‘s essay “Versions,” about the translations of last year’s Nobel laureate for literature Tomas Tranströmer. Maybe one day in the future Xi Chuan will win the Nobel prize, and we’ll be able to test this hypothesis (or test it with the last two Nobel Prize-winning poets from outside English, Wisława Szymborska [1996] and Octavio Paz [1990]); at any event, the article gives an interesting take on a worthwhile debate. I’ll come down on the side of Robin Fulton in this debate–not just that we share a publisher, but that I believe New Directions to have picked the right translator for the task.

[Fulton has also published a book of translations of the Norwegian poet Olav Hauge, whom Xi Chuan has also co-translated into Chinese; for a discussion of Xi Chuan's translations, click here.]

Weinberger & Subin in Hongkong

I had lunch yesterday with Nina Subin & Eliot Weinberger (New Directions author and translator of Octavio Paz and Bei Dao 北島, among others), in town for work with Chinese University Press on their way to Vietnam and Laos. The topics–they’re epic conversationalists–ranged from Cantonese cuisine to museums under colonialism to out-of-print sinology to the Poetry Foundation to American politics. And of course to Xi Chuan, whose photo-portrait by Nina from a few years ago should appear on the forthcoming Notes on the Mosquito, and whom Eliot met with recently during Xi Chuan’s New York stop on the Push Open the Window reading tour. In Oranges & Peanuts for Sale, Eliot mentions a trip to China where he met a Chinese poet “polymath, equally at home discussing the latest American poetry or Shang dynasty numismatics”; that was Xi Chuan.

Here’s a clip of Eliot reading at the International Poetry Nights Hong Kong two years ago:

(click here for information on this year’s Poetry Nights, including Xi Chuan’s events)