Notes on the Mosquito Reviewed at Quarterly Conversation

Eleanor Goodman’s excellent review of my translation of Notes on the Mosquito: Selected Poems of Xi Chuan is now up at Quarterly Conversation. Here’s how it begins:

In the fourteen-page Author’s Afterward to his Selected Poems, Xi Chuan references or quotes from Tolstoy, Yang Lian, the Zhuangzi, the Indian social theorist Ashis Nandy, Eileen Chang, Leo Strauss, C.T. Hsia, Jonathan Spence, Milan Kundera, Li Bai, Czeslaw Milosz, the 20th-century sociologist Fei Xiaotong, ancient philosopher Han Feizi, Mao Zedong, Foucault, Tang dynasty literati Han Yu, and Goethe. This is not a poet who can be accused of parochialism. Yet Xi Chuan wears his erudition lightly, at least in the context of his verse. This is not to say that the poems do not give a sense of a formidable intellect behind them—they do—but what is striking in the poems is less Xi Chuan’s breadth of reference than his sense of humor, his humanity, and his attention to the smallest details of ordinary life, ranging from bodily functions to rats to the way drizzle soaks through socks.

Click the icon above to read the whole review.

Almost Island Winter 2012

The Winter 2012 issue of Almost Island is finally here, featuring an essay Xi Chuan wrote in English titled “Style Comes as a Reward,” his prose poem “What the Tang Did Not Have” 唐朝所沒有的 in my translation, and my translation of “The Original Way” 原道 by Tang Dynasty man of letters Han Yu 韓愈 (768 – 824), which should be provocative on its own but also provides some historical context for Xi Chuan’s prose poem.

The issue also includes poetry by Amanda Berenguer translated by Kent Johnson, an essay by Ravi Shankar titled “The Geology and Physics of Style,” new poems by Stephen Burt, and more.