TRANSLATION THURSDAY: POETRY FROM CHINA
Posted on July 25 2019
Following on from our previous posts exploring new languages using their own writing systems, today we’re focusing on poetry in translation from China coming out in summer 2019!
Below are our top three recent poetry books in translation from Chinese. You can buy all three of them on our website with a special 30% discount! Use the promotional code TRANSLATIONTHURSDAY at the checkout and celebrate the art of translation and world literature.
#1 My Tenantless Body by Sichuanese poet Yu Yoyo, translated by UK poet A.K. Blakemore and translator Dave Haysom (Poetry Translation Centre, bilingual edition).
This bilingual book is Yu Yoyo’s first publication in English. With her sensitive, yet forceful, witty voice, she articulates in her poems aspects of the female experience in contemporary Sichuan. The book is introduced and contextualised by Dave Haysom, and comes with an afterword by Rebecca Tamás, co-editor of the anthology Spells: 21st Century Occult Poetry (Ignota Press, 2018) and author of WITCH (Penned in the Margins, 2019), our Spring Recommendation. Commenting on Yoyo’s poetry, Tamás notes how this young poet takes inspiration from the speed of social media communication.
#2 Anniversary Snow by Yang Lian, translated by Brian Holton, with additional translations by W.N. Herbert, George Szirtes, Pascale Petit, Fiona Sampson and others (Shearsman Books, July 2019). As explained in the translator’s afterword, the poems by this great author explore recurrent themes in his oeuvre, as for example the equilibrium between modernism and classical heritage or the world’s evil and sorrow. Furthermore, poetry becomes a powerful healing tool for intimate and global tragedies.
We have already mentioned the work of Yang Lian on our blog, in our World Poetry post in March. If you enjoy his style and themes or are curious and want to read more, do not forget to check out the very personal bilingual volume Narrative Poems, published by Bloodaxe Books, which was also the PBS Summer Translation Recommendation in 2017.
#3 The Iron Flute: War Poetry from Ancient & Medieval China, edited by Kevin Maynard (Arc Publications, forthcoming in August 2019). This curious and innovative anthology includes the work of over fifty poets, encompassing more than sixteen centuries of war poetry. Bringing together poems from the border and eyewitness accounts, many of which appear here in English translation for the first time, this collection lets the readers experience different, less heroic and more human aspects of conflict and life away from home in different time periods.
To keep up to date with the newest poetry in translation and bilingual books, why not become a Poetry Book Society Translation Member? Every quarter, you will receive the PBS Translation Choice alongside a full commentary in our Bulletin.