On New Books in East Asian Studies, Carla Nappi interviews Cosima Bruno about her new book on translation and the poetry of Yang Lian 杨炼:
Cosima Bruno’s new book asks us to consider a deceptively simple question: what is the relationship between a poem and its translation? In the course of Between the Lines: Yang Lian’s Poetry through Translation (Brill, 2012), Bruno helps us imagine what an answer to that question might look like while guiding us through the sounds and spaces of contemporary Chinese poet Yang Lian. Between the Lines proposes an innovative way to read a poem through and with its translations, using a “triangular comparative analysis” that juxtaposes the original poem with a number of its translations to identify shifts in the lines of the poem that serve as landmarks in the conceptual and textual world of the poet. Bruno uses this translation-focused methodology of reading to reveal fascinating dimensions of time, space, and subjectivity in Yang Lian’s work, and to guide our attention to the performative importance of rhythm, blank space, punctuation, and sound in his verse. Readers who are interested in Chinese poetry will find much to absorb and transport them in these pages, and readers interested in the theory and practice of translation will find a clear articulation of a set of methodological tools that could potentially bear fruit when rendering texts across many different genres and languages. Enjoy!
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