Goodman offers a fascinating introduction to the work of this “poet of place.” Wang’s poetry evokes a sense of dislocation and distances traveled, a sense of isolation while being embedded in a community of everyday material and nonhuman beings – corn and pigs, peanuts and windows, potatoes and blades, dust and mountains, farmers and colors. In the course of our conversation we talked about the challenges and opportunities of the translator’s practice, and Goodman was exceptionally generous in reading several of her beautiful translations and guiding us through some of the most powerful and evocative moments therein.
Click the image above or listen here.
26 – 29 November
With readings at the HKICC Lee Shau Kee School of Creativity 香港兆基創意書院, with panel discussions at Chung Chi College 崇基學院, CUHK.
Agi Mishol, Anne Waldman, Chen Li 陳黎, Etienne Lalonde, Fernando Pinto do Amaral, Gemma Gorga, Ghassan Zaqtan, Gleb Shulpyakov, Jean Michel Espitallier, Kim Hyesoon, ko ko thett, Lau Yee-ching 飲江, Les Murray, Mohammed Bennis, Najwan Darwish, Nikola Madzirov, Noriko Mizuta, Peter Cole, Song Lin 宋琳, Wang Xiaoni 王小妮, and Yoko Tawada
At their annual convention in Tucson, ALTA announced that Eleanor Goodman has won the 2015 Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize for Something Crosses My Mind, by Wang Xiaoni 王小妮 (Zephyr / Chinese University Press, 2014).
“‘I rush down the stairs,/ pull open the door,/ dash about in the spring sunlight…’ So begins this exquisite collection of translations by Eleanor Goodman of poems composed over the past several decades by Wang Xiaoni. In what follows we are taken out into the streets and on cross-country trains, into villages, cities and markets; we peep out through the windows of the poet’s home and sense the nostalgia invoked by a simple potato. Here is a poetry of the everyday, written in delicate yet deceptively simple language, and translated beautifully into its like in this first collection of Wang’s work to appear in English. Something Crosses My Mind offers up the refreshing voice of a poet forging her own path, neither shunning the political nor dwelling in the lyrical but gently and resolutely exploring her world in her writing,” write the judges of the Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize, Lucas Klein, Janet Poole, and Stephen Snyder.
Click on the image of Goodman reading for further details.
The ALTA blog is featuring the shortlisted titles for the Lucien Stryk Prize, and they’ve uploaded the blurb for Eleanor Goodman’s translation of Something Crosses My Mind 有什么在我心里一过 by Wang Xiaoni 王小妮.
“I rush down the stairs,/ pull open the door,/ dash about in the spring sunlight…” So begins this exquisite collection of translations by Eleanor Goodman of poems composed over the past several decades by Wang Xiaoni. In what follows we are taken out into the streets and on cross-country trains, into villages, cities and markets; we peep out through the windows of the poet’s home and sense the nostalgia invoked by a simple potato. Here is a poetry of the everyday, written in delicate yet deceptively simple language, and translated beautifully into its like in this first collection of Wang’s work to appear in English. Something Crosses My Mind offers up the refreshing voice of a poet forging her own path, neither shunning the political nor dwelling in the lyrical but gently and resolutely exploring her world in her writing.
At ChaHuiwen Shi reviews Eleanor Goodman’s translation of Something Crosses My Mind 有什么在我心里一过 by Wang Xiaoni 王小妮.
The collection provides both the Chinese and English versions of the works, allowing the reader to compare Goodman’s translations with the originals. Her translation doesn’t always provide a literal rendition of the Chinese, but it has full awareness of Wang’s poetic nuance, carries through the works’ humour and sentiments and keeps the essentials of the music. For example, there is the line “夜空背後黑汪汪的深,” which Goodman translates as “the boundless black depths behind the night sky.” Unable to reproduce the sound of the doubling “汪汪” (“wangwang”) in Chinese, Goodman cleverly uses the alliterative “boundless black” as an attempt to recreate the effect … There are many similar moments to these when the translation yields alternative imagery and themes that complicate any singular understanding of the original.
ALTA has posted the shortlist for this year’s Lucien Stryk Award, which honors book-length translations into English of poetry or Zen Buddhist texts from Hindi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean into English.
The shortlisted titles are:
Cat Townby Sakutarō Hagiwara 萩原朔太郎, translated from the Japanese by Hiroaki Sato (New York Review Books)
The shortlist for the International Griffin Poetry Prize–one of the most prestigious contemporary poetry prizes–has been announced, with Eleanor Goodman’s translation of Something Crosses My Mind 有什么在我心里一过 by Wang Xiaoni 王小妮, getting top billing.
The judges are Tim Bowling (Canada), Fanny Howe (USA) and Piotr Sommer (Poland). Their citation reads:
“What is so attractive about Wang Xiaoni’s poems as translated into English by Eleanor Goodman is her quiet, loving, meditative distance to the mostly anonymous and lonely heroes she clearly knows well. And her attitude to time, which she keeps dragging out of its anchored localities (and barely marked history) to extend and connect, or fuse with specific spaces that she also enlarges in size and scope. Moments prolong into a century or a life, imaginary beasts meld with real animals, description becomes an act of meditation. In a few lines, a village can take on the dimension of a vast landscape – and yet still remain that particular village. And while Xiaoni’s [sic] characters may not speak, they seem to have a real insight into our experience and lives. In a way nothing much happens in her magic lyricism: the wind blows, the ocean rises, people work or move from one place to another, or wait, or just leave some place, and they have souls (which behave like shadows); someone on a journey sees them, through the window, between one landscape and another, and it’s difficult to know why all this is so moving. Reading her, I found myself repeating Auden’s phrase “About suffering they were never wrong, / The old Masters.” Wang Xiaoni is a terrific contemporary poet gracefully extending the great classical Chinese tradition.”
Amy Russell at the South China Morning Post has reviewed Something Crosses My Mind有什么在我心里一过, Eleanor Goodman’s translation of poems by Wang Xiaoni 王小妮. Here’s an excerpt:
The interaction between Wang’s characters and their environment is a crucial aspect of her work, vividly epitomised in Plowman, where “red … comes after punishment” and “after pain has been quietly survived”.
Wang’s gentle but weighty words are built from sharp observation, and deliver an honesty and rawness brilliantly captured in the translation by Harvard research associate Eleanor Goodman. As a northerner writing in the south, Wang has an outsider’s perspective, noticing details that locals might overlook.
The Asian Review of Books has published Jennifer Wong’s review of Something Crosses My Mind 有什么在我心里一过 by Wang Xiaoni 王小妮, translated by Eleanor Goodman. Here’s an excerpt:
Goodman’s strength as a translator lies in her ability to render the Chinese poetic language faithfully and with elegance, adhering to syntax and line breaks, while taking care that the translated verse does not alienate the reader. She has kept true to Wang’s immediate, unaffected voice, and maintained her uncanny, pithy word choice. She also refrains from the temptation to over-translate or gloss over the strangeness of poetic language. A fuller annotation of terms might however benefit those readers unfamiliar with Chinese rituals, regional life and dialects. The decision to make this book a bilingual edition makes it possible for sinologists and those who are able to access both languages to compare and understand how Chinese and English poetic language and form operate.