Li on Translating Zhu Zhu in WLT

The cover to Zhu Zhu's The Wild Great Wall juxtaposed with a photo of the authorAs part of their “Translation Tuesday” feature, World Literature Today has published “Translating Zhu Zhu: Poetry as Lifeline,” by Dong Li on his translation of the poetry of Zhu Zhu 朱朱, The Wild Great Wall 野长城 (Phoneme Media). He writes:

As I went through the last proof of The Wild Great Wall in one long breath, these final smoked lines came alive again in Zhu Zhu’s attentive voice. I lament the irretrievable loss of these Chinese words, whose constellation first moved me and sent me on a mission to look for the English words that could approximate the sensory traces and emotional pulls of the original. I feel consoled that the reader can now experience Zhu Zhu in the English language for the first time. As I shift between Zhu Zhu’s Chinese and my English, our shared words, like trees in a forest, seem to grow with each season. Here is a lyric that continues to extend.

Click the image above to read the essay in full.

Li’s Song Lin at PEN

The PEN website has published new translations of the poetry of Song Lin 宋琳 by 2015 PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant-winning translator Dong Li 李栋, as well as his essay, “The World Migrating: On Translating Song Lin.”

Paul Celan by the Seine

This unavoidable speechlessness: alone, in a foreign land. Alas, “winter warms us.” This impossible supineness: a dead man floats over the Seine.
Paul Celan drinks the Seine to his heart’s content. The more he drinks, the thirstier he becomes. From partial darkness to the full: he drinks away the root of the last word.
The purest go for death the earliest. Resistance off the map—you, glorious deserter, abandoned the concentration camp, the youth, the laughable Nazis. You returned all the shame to the Jews and they wandered still, were beaten and sought salvation.
Afloat, from the Seine to Jordan, from Paris to Jerusalem. Paul Celan drinks with his eyes, drinks in his own inventive ways. Alone, he drinks the two rivers from heaven and hell.
His eyes open in our eyes. “When God asks me to drink,” he says.

Click the image above for the full suite.