Lilburn on Xi Chuan & Zhai Yongming in Brick

The Canadian literary journal Brick has published Tim Lilburn’s essay on “A Mandelstamian Generation in China,” on Xi Chuan and Zhai Yongming 翟永明. He writes,

There has been a tendency in North America and Europe to imagine Chinese writers, poets especially perhaps, as inevitably and necessarily political, dissidents in a way that flatters the West. This was true for writers in the Soviet Union too, which made it difficult, for example, to appreciate the complete range of someone like Joseph Brodsky once he first became known outside of Russia. Taking Xi Chuan this way, or any in his generation, would bring on similar reductive distortions. It is true that in China’s current state of cultural undefinition, some intellectuals, as Xi Chuan told [Eleanor] Wachtel, “are trying to rethink or reflect on history, not only ancient history but also on modern history, revolutionary history,” in order to imagine a possible, more coherent China. It’s also true that traditionally poets, like scholars, in the Confucian scheme of things, have seen themselves as serving the state by helping to shape its notion of itself, either by speaking directly to the masses or by educating the ruler. But the West is chiefly keen to identify dissidents wherever it can, because these, it supposes, are warriors for its own cause within an opposing power, who work utterly at their own risk. It’s hard to believe that any of the major Chinese poets I spoke to seeks to fulfill the role of furthering Western cultural expansion. As Xi Chuan said in the Wachtel interview: “I don’t think Cnia will one day become, for instance, Canada, America, England, or France.” Nor, it seems, does he wish exactly that it would. When I asked the Chinese poets gathered in 2008 at White Stone Town in Anhui Province how they thought of being seen by the West as dissidents, Ouyang Jianghe, one of the most fiery of the group, exploded that he had no wish to be regarded as a writer who was professionally a disaffected Chinese intellectual. Such a vocation was far too soft and besides was a self-serving invention from elsewhere.

For ordering information and the journal’s table of contents, click the image above.

WLT Review of Han Dong & Ouyang Jianghe

A Phone Call from Dalian World Literature Today has published Josh Stenberg’s review of Zephyr books A Phone Call from Dalian by Han Dong 韩东, translated by Nicky Harman, and Doubled Shadows by Ouyang Jianghe 欧阳江河, translated by Austin Woerner:

Ouyang Jianghe and Han Dong … both occupy established places in what, for over thirty years, has been known as avant-garde Chinese literature. In poetic approach, they represent divergent tendencies—Ouyang cosmopolitan, clean, and heavily referential; Han craftily offhand, personal, confidently bizarre, not tetchy about grime Doubled Shadowsor sex. Where Ouyang often seems to offer an argument about the cultural currents and skirmishes of today’s China, Han’s work most often reads as a lament for the failure of attempts to bridge the spaces between people

 

Ouyang Jianghe & Egoyan Zheng “Fiction and Imagination: Many Facets of Literary Expression”

http://iww.hkbu.edu.hk/download/20121137.jpg

Chinese Public Talk “Fiction and Imagination: Many Facets of Literary Expression”

Moderator:
Dr. William Ng (Department of Religion and Philosophy, HKBU)

Speakers:
Mr. Ouyang Jianghe
Mr. Egoyan Zheng
The talk is conducted in Putonghua.

7 Nov 2012 (Wed)

4:00pm – 5.30pm
RRS905, Sir Run Run Shaw Building, Hong Kong Baptist University
All are welcome

Poetry Out Loud: Writing the Metropolis

http://iww.hkbu.edu.hk/download/2012117.jpgPublic Recital

Moderator:
Mr. David McKirdy (Poetry OutLoud)

Reciters:
All Visiting Writers

Members of Poetry OutLoud
(Co-organized with Poetry OutLoud)

7 Nov 2012 (Wed)
7:30pm – 9:30pm
Fringe Club
2nd Lower Albert Road, Central
All are welcome

Ouyang Jianghe & Egoyan Zheng on “Images of an Era in Words and Writing”

http://iww.hkbu.edu.hk/download/20121137.jpg

Chinese Public Talk “Images of an Era in Words and Writing”

Moderator:
Dr. Lim Chin Chown (Department of Chinese Language and Literature, HKBU)
Dr. Ge Liang (Department of Chinese Language and Literature, HKBU)

Speakers:
Mr. Ouyang Jianghe
Mr. Egoyan Zheng

The talk is conducted in Putonghua.
(Co-organized by LCSD Hong Kong Public Libraries)

3 Nov 2012 (Sat)
4:00pm – 5:30pm
Lecture Theatre 1, Ground Floor, Hong Kong Central Library, Causeway Bay
All are welcome

Yang Mu wins Newman Prize for Chinese Literature

Newman logo

Taiwan-born and -raised poet Yang Mu 楊牧 has won the Newman Prize for Chinese Literature from the University of Oklahoma.

Yang was nominated by UC Davis professor Michelle Yeh, co-translator with Lawrence R. Smith of Yang’s collection No Trace of the Gardener (another volume, translated by Joseph Allen, was published as Forbidden Games & Video Poems: The Poetry of Lo Chʻing [羅青]). The other nominees were Hsia Yü 夏宇, Yang Lian 杨炼, Zhai Yongming 翟永明, and Ouyang Jianghe 欧阳江河, nominated by Jennifer Feeley (U. Iowa, USA), Michel Hockx (U. London SOAS, UK), Wolfgang Kubin (Bonn U., Germany), and Zhang Qinghua 张清华 (BNU, PRC), respectively.

Rare for contemporary Chinese poetry, all nominated poets have single-author collections available in English translation. Coincidentally, three of the nominees–Hsia, Zhai, and Ouyang–have had their only books in English published by Zephyr Press.

Jade Ladder’s Poets

I’ve compiled a list of the poets whose work appears in English translation in Jade Ladder, the new anthology of contemporary Chinese poetry edited by Yang Lian 杨炼, W N Herbert, Brian Holton, and Qin Xiaoyu 秦晓宇. The anthology presents the work of poets by birth year, but the work is separated into sections–lyric poems, narrative poems, neo-classical poems, sequences, experimental poems, and long poems–so I’ve put together this alphabetical list of the poets represented. Poets in bold (23, by my count) are those not included in the recent Copper Canyon anthology, Push Open the Window (of whom 19 of the 49 are not included in JL; click here for that anthology’s table of contents). Also, since Jade Ladder is English-only, I’m not sure of every poet’s name in Chinese, and consequently have left some blank. If you know, or spot any other errors, let me know.

  1. Bai Hua 柏桦
  2. Bei Dao 北岛
  3. Chen Dongdong 陈东东
  4. Chen Xianfa 陈先发
  5. Duo Duo 多多
  6. Ge Mai 戈麦
  7. Gu Cheng 顾城
  8. Hai Zi 海子
  9. Han Bo韩博
  10. Hu Dong
  11. Hu Xudong 胡续冬
  12. Huang Canran 黄灿然
  13. Jiang Hao 蒋浩
  14. Jiang He 江河
  15. Jiang Tao 姜涛
  16. Liao Yiwu 廖亦
  17. Lü De’an 吕德安
  18. Ma Hua 马骅
  19. Mai Cheng
  20. Mang Ke 芒克
  21. Meng Lang 孟浪
  22. Ouyang Jianghe 欧阳江河
  23. Pan Wei
  24. Qin Xiaoyu 秦晓宇
  25. Qing Ping 清平
  26. Senzi 森子
  27. Shui Yin
  28. Song Lin 宋琳
  29. Song Wei
  30. Sun Lei
  31. Sun Wenbo 孙文波
  32. Wang Ao 王敖
  33. Wang Xiaoni 王小妮
  34. Xi Chuan 西川
  35. Xiao Kaiyu 肖开愚
  36. Ya Shi
  37. Yan Li
  38. Yang Lian 杨炼
  39. Yang Xiaobin 杨小
  40. Yang Zheng
  41. Yi Sha 伊沙
  42. Yu Jian 于坚
  43. Yu Nu 余怒
  44. Zang Di 臧棣
  45. Zhai Yongming 翟永明
  46. Zhang Danyi
  47. Zhang Dian
  48. Zhang Shuguang 张曙光
  49. Zhang Zao 张枣
  50. Zhong Ming
  51. Zhou Lunyou
  52. Zhu Zhu 朱朱
  53. Zou Jingzhi

Pictures from the India-China Writers Dialogues

Almost Island editor Sharmistha Mohanty sent me the following pictures from the India-China Writers Dialogues. In the first is, from the top left, Xi Chuan, Li Tuo 李陀, Lydia Liu 刘禾, Zhong Yurou 钟雨柔, Kabir Mohanty, Ge Fei 格非, with Sharmistha Mohanty, Bei Dao 北岛, Ashwini Bhat, and Ouyang Jianghe 欧阳江河 in the bottom row.

In the second shot, we have Xi Chuan with Ouyang Jianghe and Sharmistha Mohanty.

The pictures were taken by Samimitra Das.

 

January 2012 Issue of Asymptote

The January 2012 issue of Asymptote is now online, featuring Xi Chuan‘s “Beast” 巨兽, “The Distance” 远方, and “Poison” 毒药, in my translations. You can also hear a recording of “The Distance” read in Chinese by Huang Yin-Nan.

This issue also hosts a great range of international writing, especially when it comes to writing in Chinese: there’s Xi Chuan’s friend Ouyang Jianghe 欧阳江河, translated by Austin Woerner, and Taiwanese superstar poet Hsia Yü 夏宇, translated by Steve Bradbury. And then there’s the Taiwan Fiction Feature.

Great to be included in that group!

More on the India-China Writers Dialogues

While I expect it will be some time until the participants of the India-China Writers Dialogues publish anything about the event–these writers want to be thorough and accurate to both reality and emotion–I did come across another press report, from Express India. It begins discussing the germ of the idea with Sharmistha Mohanty and Bei Dao, and moving on toward the following detail:

Since the beginning of the dialogue two years ago, the participants have been the same group of writers, and Mohanty believes this has been a very important aspect. “With the same group of writers meeting each time, we have become good friends and learnt a lot from each other,” she says. Besides the speakers for the panel discussion, the participants include Allan Sealy, Rukmini Bhaya Nair, Adil Jussawalla, Vivek Narayanan and K Satchidanandan from India and Ge Fei, Xi Chuan, Zhai Yongming and Ouyang Jianghe from China.

These discussions are not limited to analysing writing styles and such. In the course of these two years, the participants have exchanged a great deal about their histories and cultures, too. “We talk about a variety of things,” says Mohanty. “For instance, what does tradition mean to us? How is it represented in our lives and works? Or how a writer wrestles with his past when he is writing. We discuss whether he rejects that long past or embraces it, and so on.”