Wolfgang Kubin interviewed at CLT

In the new Chinese Literature Today, editor Jonathan Stalling interviews Wolfgang Kubin about his life and the poets and poetry he’s known.

Zhang Zao and Ouyang Jianghe wanted pure poetry and new vocabulary, whereas the vocabulary of Bei Dao before ’89 is quite conventional and comes close to what the Spanish poets of the ’30s and ’40s made use of. Bei Dao writes short poetry, but the so-called post hermetic poets prefer the longer form and their outlook is quite different. They are not politically naïve anymore; they do know how complicated a society can be. The poetry of Bei Dao or the poetry of the ’80s, however, always believes in a future that will be good and that will be coming tomorrow. You won’t find this kind of naiveté in Ouyang Jianghe … Zhai Yongming’s starting point is so-called hermetic poetry, and her first cycle about women is so complicated that it drives you crazy as a translator. I translated her work into German and published a book of it very early. I translated much more of her poetry, and actually I should have produced another book, but she’s very modest and always asks me to translate others before editing a new volume of her poetry. But before long she left this kind of hermetic poetry. During her second phase, she dealt with a history of women in her mother’s generation in China before and after ’49. She chose a very plain language and she preferred the long poem. The poetry of her second phase is very easy to translate into a foreign language; it’s not complicated at all. During her third phase, when she started criticizing men, when she started making fun of male protagonists, then her language changed again—it was not hermetic, it was not plain, it was something in-between. Nowadays she prefers a very plain language for social critique. This is her fourth phase, so she’s the only Chinese poet about whom we can say that she went through three, no, four phases of different kinds of poetry. Bei Dao has only two phases; Yang Lian, I think you would say he has one phase and has never changed. P. K. Leung the Hong Kong poet—in some respects he’s always good, always the same. Zhang Zao, the same. Ouyang Jianghe has made changes, perhaps with his last long poem. Xi Chuan, he’s riper now, so he’s different, but concerning his form, I do not see much difference. He’s now more philosophical and he’s more sophisticated, he has humor, he makes fun.

Click on the image for the full piece.

Poems of Everyday Life: A Tribute to Yasi at HKU

Poems of Everyday Life: A Tribute to Yasi
Picnic, Music, Poems.

Yasi is one of Hong Kong’s most important literary figures. His prolific output ranges from poetry, essays, novels, plays, literature reviews and cultural studies to photography and video.

Yasi was a member of the University of Hong Kong where he taught in the Departments of English Studies and Comparative Literature. His work is very much connected to his hometown of Hong Kong, through his keen observation of people, objects and everyday life.

According to his friends, Yasi was a great lover of food and good company. Join us to pay tribute to Yasi’s life and work with a feast of food, music, poetry, dance and other activities inspired by his writings.

Date: 30 January 2015 (Friday)
Time: 12-5pm
Venue: Sun Yat Sen Place, The University of Hong Kong

12:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Yasi letterpress printing workshop
Make your own chop with lines from Yasi’s poems
Snacks inspired by Yasi’s food poems
By Zi Wut, KongYeah, HKU staff and students

12:45 – 2:00 p.m.
Poetry Readings, Music and Dance Performances
By Kung Chi Sing, Jing Wong, Choi Sai Ho, Mui Cheuk Yin and Comparative Literature students

2:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Poetry Workshop by KongYeah
Yasi guided tour by students from the Department of Comparative Literature

For enquiries, please contact Mr Cyrus Chan (Tel: 3917 4984; Email: cyrusc@hku.hk).

Co-organized by: Read-Cycling, Centre of Development and Resources for Students, General Education Unit, Department of Comparative Literature, Faculty of Arts, HKU

Supported by:  Zi Wut, KongYeah

Chinese Poetry in Asian Cha

2014-10-11_1635The new issue of Asian Cha is here, along with Iris Fan’s poem “In Memory of Leung Ping-Kwan [梁秉鈞]”

no southern terra other than this one
where once a painter dreamed of water
rising from an ancient river flooding his farm

And Hongkong poet Wong Leung Wo’s 王良和 “An Ode to the Tree Roots: Part III” 樹根三頌之三 as translated by Jessica Siu-yin Yeung:

In the first place, the desire to bloom hid in the seed
Becoming the source of strength for itself to struggle and to grow taller, to consider endlessly
Bursting into a luminous point of fixation


The issue also includes Yeung’s translation of a suite of poems by Wang Zang 王藏, apprehended for organizing a poetry event in support of the umbrella uprising.

From this day on, be a happy person.
Defend your rights happily, talk and act happily
Even though you live forever in the land of sorrow.


For these poems and many others, click on the image above.