International Poetry Nights in Hong Kong

International Poetry Nights in Hong Kong – 10th Anniversary Celebration
Speech and Silence
November 19-24, 2019

Nearly every other festival, public lecture, and concert in Hong Kong seems to have been canceled, but International Poetry Nights in Hong Kong will take place as scheduled! (though at a different venue than earlier planned)

Join thirty international poets, plus musicians and esteemed literary translators, for a festival of poetry (and the resilience of culture in Hong Kong), on the theme “Speech and Silence.”

Events will take place at the Jao Tsung-I Academy 饒宗頤文化館, 800 Castle Peak Road, Lai Chi Kok, Kowloon.

Readings are from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., with music concerts following. For times and information on panel discussions on themes such as “Genre and Gender,” “The State of Resistance,” “Poetry, Translation, Hong Kong,” and “AI, Translating the Mother Tongue of Poetry,” check the full schedule.

Here is the list of participating poets and their places of origin:

Tamim AL-BARGHOUTI (Palestine)
Martin SOLOTRUK (Slovakia)
TÓTH Krisztina (Hungary)
Anastassis VISTONITIS (Greece)
Ana BLANDIANA (Romania)
Ana RISTOVIĆ (Serbia)
Derek CHUNG 鍾國強 (Hong Kong)
Forrest GANDER (United States)
Miłosz BIEDRZYCKI (Poland)
Renato Sandoval BACIGALUPO (Peru)
MATHURA (Estonia)
Louise DUPRÉ (Canada)
Ana Luísa AMARAL (Portugal)
HWANG Yu Won (South Korea)
Jen BERVIN (United States)
Abbas BEYDOUN (Lebanon)
Maxim AMELIN (Russia)
Sergio RAIMONDI (Argentina)
ZHENG Xiaoqiong 鄭小瓊 (PRC)
Ijeoma UMEBINYUO (Nigeria)
Aleš ŠTEGER (Slovenia)
Jan WAGNER (Germany)
Ernest WICHNER (Germany)
YANG Chia-Hsien 楊佳嫻 (Taiwan)
Yasuhiro YOTSUMOTO (Japan)
YU Youyou 余幼幼 (PRC)
ZHOU Yunpeng 周雲蓬 (PRC)
Maria STEPANOVA (Russia)

And here the list of special guests, including translators and AI poets:

Nick Admussen
John Cayley
Johannes Göransson
David Jhave Johnston
Andrea Lingenfelter
Yara El-Masri
Jennifer Feeley
Eleanor Goodman
Ting Guo 郭婷
Tammy Ho 何麗明
Viorica Patea
Lea Schneider
Ulrich Schreiber
Zhao Si 趙四
Jordan A. Y. Smith

Jacob Edmond on Yang Lian & John Cayley

Where the Sea Stands StillJacob Edmond of A Common Strangeness has a new post at Jacket2‘s  “Iterations” series titled “From Sea to Screen: Yang Lian and John Cayley’s iterations.” Here’s how it begins:

The long poem “Dahai tingzhi zhi chu” 大海停止之处 by Yang Lian 杨炼 and its transformation into the collaborative digital and performance piece Where the Sea Stands Still illustrate an iterative response to digital technologies and globalization. The iterative structure of Yang Lian’s long poem produces an expanding sense of space and geography that, like the title, combines perpetual repetition with continuous change.

Translation & Cultural Distinction

In his introduction to Xi Chuan and Zhou Zan from their 92nd St. Y reading on October 10th, Forrest Gander referred to something his Brown University colleague John Cayley had said about classical Chinese poetry in English translation. Sylvia Lin and Howard Goldblatt, the translation editors of the NEA anthology Push Open the Window, also picked up on the same statement, writing in their “Translation Co-Editors’ Preface”:

When we agreed to take on this exciting project as translation editors, we were reminded of a comment that has long resonated with us, as readers and translators of Chinese literature and as “shameless” promoters of the best of it, in the original when possible and in translation otherwise. John Cayley, himself a translator and a publisher of Chinese poetry in translation, has written: “Incontestably, the translation of classical Chinese poetry into English has given us a body of work which is culturally distinct from the poetry of its host language but which has immediate appeal, and is often read with intense pleasure and a deep awareness of its moral and artistic significance.” The challenge, for us, was to assist in bringing over contemporary poetry from China such that Cayley’s assertion could be modified by replacing a single word and remain true.

This is interesting to consider. Certainly what Cayley says is true, that English translations of classical Chinese poetry have been loved by readers and influential to poets who have little or no knowledge of Chinese as a language or a culture otherwise; Eliot Weinberger‘s early Nineteen Ways of Looking at Wang Wei and more recent New Directions Anthology of Classical Chinese Poetry are testaments to this fact. And yet, when it comes to contemporary Chinese poetry, I’m not so ready to agree (I’ve been critical, for instance, of anthologies of contemporary Chinese poetry that seem to exploit the creativity of the translator and suppress what makes the original original).

Certainly translating a poem from a thousand years ago and a poem from this decade are somewhat different activities. Certainly the cultural distinction of contemporary Chinese vis-à-vis the contemporary anglophone world is much less than the cultural distinction of China in the Tang or Song. Do facts of proximity–from globalization to immigration to travel to…–mean that we translators have less cultural leeway when dealing with contemporary Chinese writing than with writing from ancient China? In other words, do we have to make our translations less culturally distinct from their originals because contemporary Chinese originals are already closer to us than ancient Chinese originals? I find this question especially relevant to translating Xi Chuan, who often incorporates a view of classical China from (for instance, his series “Thirty Historical Reflections” 鉴史三十章).

This deserves more thought, of course, and I certainly don’t want to prescribe anything all translators everywhere have to follow. I will say this, though: my goal in translation is to satisfy three kinds of readers, those who read Chinese poetry, those who read poetry in English, and those who read translations. If I don’t think what I’ve written satisfies those three very different sets of demands, I don’t think I’ve written a good translation.