Push Open the Window

My copy of Push Open the Window: Contemporary Poetry from China (edited by Wang Qingping, with Howard Goldblatt & Sylvia Li-chun Lin as translation editors) arrived today, & I can’t wait to read through it. One thing I didn’t realize was that the title comes from my translation of “A Poem Written on an Overcast Day” 阴天写下的一首诗 (pp. 104 – 107) by Qing Ping 清平, who so happens to be the editor of the volume, writing under a sneaky pen-name.

The book looks and feels great, showcasing the work of not only an excellent array of contemporary poets from the PRC but also the skills of one of the finest groupings of translators from the Chinese I’ve ever seen (and I’m not just saying that because so many of them are friends of mine). And in addition to the editor’s intro. and the translation co-editors’ preface, it’s also got a forward from renowned internationalist poet and translator Forrest Gander. My only quibble with the book so far is that, while everything is printed with Chinese and English en face, for some reason the Chinese characters of none of the poets’ names made it into the book. So if you want to know whether the poet called Shu Cai is 蔬菜 (vegetable) or 树才, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

Here’s the first page of my Xi Chuan 西川 translations, which include “Notes on the Mosquito” 蚊子志 (the title of the forthcoming New Directions volume), “Exercises in Thought” 思想练习, and “Ode to Skin” 皮肤颂:

6 thoughts on “Push Open the Window

  1. The four criteria put forward by Xi Chuan to assess whether a poem is successful:

  2. Yes, his style is developing. But it does not matter. I like the second criterion, which still works in his more recent poems, I think.

  3. Here’s my quick translation of the comment Jiang Chengzhi posted, above:

    “There are four criteria for judging whether a poem is successful: one, the poem’s proximity to eternal truth; two, the poem’s suggestiveness of another world through its representation of this one; three, the perfection of the poem’s internal structure and technique; and four, the joy the poem evokes as an aesthetic object in the mind of the reader.”

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