Forthcoming: Burton Watson’s Chinese Rhyme-Prose Re-release

Chinese Rhyme-Prose coverBurton Watson’s 1971 collection Chinese Rhyme-Prose will be re-released as part of the New York Review Books / Chinese University Press Calligrams series, with a short essay of mine as a preface. Here’s a sample of the jacket copy from the publishers:

The fu, or rhyme-prose, is a major poetic form in Chinese literature, most popular between the second century BCE and the sixth century CE. Unlike what is usually considered Chinese poetry, it is a hybrid of prose and rhymed verse, more expansive than the condensed lyrics, verging on what would be called Whitmanesque. The thirteen long poems included here are descriptions of and meditations on such subjects as mountains and abandoned cities, the sea and the wind, owls and goddesses, partings and the idle life.

Click on the image above for pre-ordering information.

Jonathan Stalling Reviews Jacob Edmond’s A Common Strangeness

200MCLC has published Jonathan Stalling’s review of Jacob Edmond’s A Common Strangeness: Contemporary Poetry, Cross-Cultural Encounter, Comparative Literature. Here’s how it begins:

To begin with, Jacob Edmond’s new book, A Common Strangeness, is anything but common and signals what I hope will be a new trend toward more ambitious studies of late-modernist to contemporary poetics on a global scale. While it might be premature to announce the arrival of a “global poetics,” there is a pressing need for a space to explore this genre specific cognate of World Literature, a space to reimagine what in China operates under the title: comparative poetics (比较诗学). This is a robust area of academic research in China, yet it tends to reduce poetry and poetics to the pre WWII traditional canon: Plato, Aristotle, and Longinus; Sidney, Pope, and Johnson; Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Emerson; Poe, Arnold, and Eliot; and perhaps Frost, Williams, Hughes, and, because it is China, Pound. In English literary criticism today, however, the term “poetics” often demarks poetry discourses consciously connected to avant-garde practice along the vectors of a more radical canon: Blake, Whitman, Stein, Pound, Zukofsky, Olson, Mac Low/John Cage to Susan Howe, Lyn Hejinian and others associated with the so-called LANGUAGE poets from the 1970s forward through neo-conceptual poetry, etc … One should also mention that scholars tracking trends in contemporary poetics in the West have remained problematically Anglophonocentric and have largely failed to attend to poetic shifts on a global scale unless such shifts are explicitly conversant in the idioms of innovative English-based poetics (including those within the Sinophone sphere). So while no single volume could ever hope to connect the multitudinous and heterogeneous threads of a “global poetics,” A Common Strangeness succeeds in moving in this direction in part by offering a critical lens (strangeness) through which to view poetry on a global scale.

Click the image above for the full review.

Walt Whitman in Chinese

from Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself,” translated into Chinese by Zhao Luorui 赵萝蕤:

我赞美我自己,歌唱我自己,
我承担的你也将承担,
因为属于我的每一个原子也同样属于你。

我闲步,还邀请了我的灵魂,
我俯身悠然观察着一片夏日的草叶。

我的舌,我血液的每个原子,是在这片土壤、这个空气里形成的,
我是生在这里的父母生下的,父母的父母也是在这里生下的,他们的父母也一样,
我,现在三十七岁,一开始身体就十分健康,
希望永不终止,直到死去。

信条和学派暂时不论,
且后退一步,明了它们当前的情况已足,但也决不是忘记,
不论我从善从恶,我允许随意发表意见,
顺乎自然,保持原始的活力。

For the entire feature and Whitman in other languages, click here.