PRI has published an article on the thriving contemporary Chinese poetry scene. Here’s a taste:
As in other spheres, the Internet has proven a huge democratizing force in the world of Chinese poetry, leveling the playing field for migrant workers and millionaires alike. But love of verse was already there. Chinese poetry has 2,000 years of tradition at its back. Parents read it to their babies. Kids study it in school. But the thing is, most Chinese believe poetry peaked in the Tang Dynasty. That ended more than 1100 years ago. So for today’s poets, their chosen art form’s exalted status can feel like a double-edged sword.
The article quotes Heather Inwood, Huang Yibing 黄亦兵 (Mai Mang 麦芒), Mindy Zhang 明迪, and Jonathan Stalling. Click here for the full article.
In April Poetry International published their interview with Mindy Zhang 明迪 about translating poetry between English and Chinese. Here’s how the interview begins:
PI: What is the most challenging aspect of translating poetry?
MZ: The hardest part of translation is to go inside the mind of the poet and find out what he did NOT want to say. I like ambiguities and multiple readings but I think we should avoid misleading. If the poet hated rhythm and musicality in poetry, making the translation musical would mean cheating. These are, of course, extreme cases. Usually I try to figure out what’s in a poem rather than what’s not in a poem. There are always several choices to translate a line, I would focus on which one represents the closest meaning and brings out the implied, the suggested, the hidden meaning and which one best presents the tone and the mood. Very often I look at the translation, hmmmm, this doesn’t sound right— I make changes; I stare at the original poem, stare at it literally, until I hear the voice of it. In other words, a translated poem should be as good as it was originally with its linguistic and emotional subtleties. Whatever drives the poem forward, the motif and echoes, the rhythm and variations, the passion or reasoning, the word play, the visual shifting, whatever, should be reflected in the translation.
Her responses include mentions of lots of poets & writers from around the world, as well as translators Jonathan Stalling, Christopher Lupke, Denis Mair, and Nick Admussen.