The inimitable Paul Nelson met Xi Chuan when they both attended the Qinghai Lake International Poetry Festival 青海湖国际诗歌节 last August. After Xi Chuan’s Copper Canyon reading in Seattle, Paul met with Xi Chuan for an interview, part one of which has just been posted on splab.org. In English, the interview shows Xi Chuan at all his depth and breadth, ranging from the importance of Western poetries to Chinese literature and the place of Ezra Pound to his difficulties in the face of the personal and social upheavals he of 1989; it also includes a bit of a reading of my translation of Xi Chuan’s prose poem “Beast” 巨兽. Here’s Paul’s write-up.
While in China for the 3rd Qinghai Lake International Poetry Festival this past August, I met one of the most renowned younger Chinese poets, Xi Chuan. He has a book coming out next year entitled Notes on the Mosquito, published in translation by New Directions. In Seattle recently to celebrate the release of an anthology of contemporary poetry from China, Push Open the Window (Copper Canyon Press) he talked about the opening in Chinese poetry after the Cultural Revolution. SPLAB Presents for the week of October 17, 2011.
SPLAB Presents airs Thursdays at 4:30 p.m. on KBCS.FM, 91.3, or you can listen to the interview here.
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I just learned of Xi Chuan’s work in the spring New Directions catalog.
After writing books on the music of birds and whales, I am now writing a book on insects and music, and wonder if any of Xi Chuan’s poems specificially deal with the sounds of insects.
Might you be able to send me such writings that might be relevant to my quest?
In exchange I can send you a copy of my version of the Blue Cliff Record, more an adaptation than a translation, though Sam Hamill and Red Pine liked it!
Thanks for the comment! Off the top of my head, the poems of Xi Chuan’s that are about insects are “Notes on the Mosquito,” an earlier translation of which you can find in the newly released Copper Canyon anthology Push Open the Window, and “The Ant’s Plunder,” which you can read here: http://theprosepoem.ampcommunity.com/?page_id=631. In terms of music or sound and animals, you may also be interested in Xi Chuan’s “A Song of No Matter,” which came out in the first issue of Chinese Literature Today, and “A Song of the Corner,” which was published in the booklet for the International Poetry Nights Hong Kong. Curious readers can find links to all these publications scattered throughout the blog; embedded links don’t work too well in comments, I’m afraid.
I’d love to see your version of Blue Cliff Record!