Tag Archives: translation

Interview with St Brigid Press

ladybug

“Much of our experience takes place in an interior landscape. But … the most mindful way to access that seems to be through the external landscape.”

Emily Hancock of St Brigid Press interviewed me May 20 at the SBP printshop in Afton, Virginia. You can hear the interview and read the transcript here.

St Brigid Press will be publishing a chapbook of my work, Wind Intervals, in the late summer.

New Translation of “For Tomas Transtromer” [Chinese]

Mary Tang wrote me today to share a Chinese translation of my poem “For Tomas Transtromer.” For more information about my call for translations of this work, see the Translate This Poem page. On the composition of the translation, Mary writes, “My translation of your poem from English to Chinese was spontaneous and took little time. To me some poems translate themselves into Chinese; other can never be.” Find out more about Mary on her site here. Thanks Mary!

*

路上的冰
影出你我
眼中所見
一般無奈
無法轉向
南部遠冬水盡
跪倒一行古柏
像一隊累了的兵人
失去了重舉的志願
他們背後
鱷寇稱王
我在千里之外的寒春麥田
望見無聲未覺的風暴逼近
深信萬物可失
像腦中的浮現
像夢中的呼叫
–縁盡
風以暴力
能否聽到
你我心聲?
與我同在
面向將來
(c) Mary Tang

Night (for Ruan Ji) [after and for Mei Yao-ch’en]

Night (for Ruan Ji)

日從東溟轉, 夜向西海沉.

From the east the day comes spinning, revolving towards
the strange west, where descending evening colors the ocean’s every drop.

羣物各已息, 衆星燦然森.

Every living thing is resting, or holding its breath, it’s hard to tell
on nights when the toad swallows the moon –

蝦蟇將食月, 魑魅爭出陰.

Starlight glinting from every pine needle – or is it a million swords
unsheathed, our demons striving to materialize out of the dark cluster?

阮籍獨不寐, 徘徊起彈琴.

Only you, my friend, sleepless, pacing in your room, can sense it; only you
with a word, or a wave across your zither, can turn the knife’s edge back into night.

*

[Note: This is the most recent draft of a work based on a poem of Mei Yao-ch’en (1002-1060), about whom I have written many poems on this blog. The first version can be found here. The three between that draft and this one were too incomplete to share, so I’m sparing you those.

My continuing thanks to Chen Zhang, Chinese Literary Preceptor at Harvard University, for her explication and patience. She not only provided a word-for-word translation but important historical and critical perspective that helped me locate this work closer to the heart of Mei’s writing; she also provided her own enthusiasm for this specific poem. Sitting alone with a cup of coffee a few days ago in a Panera Bread with a marvelous view of the twilight saturating the Blue Ridge, I found a way into this poem through the voice of the poet I have appropriated/channeled/imitated in nearly forty other poems that were not attempting to be translations. That voice I was so used to writing in already helped me re-imagine this most recent version, which I think may be closer to a true translation of my friend Sheng-yu’s work. Again, the idea to approach the poem that way came from Chen, who pinpointed so well the difference between interpretation and translation in my many amateur’s questions.

Ruan Ji (210 – 263) was a poet Mei admired. He was also, some might say, an accomplished ne’er-do-well born into a prominent family who was unafraid of leveraging that prominence and wealth to support his chosen vocation as a poet. Some stories about him include him staying drunk for over a month to avoid having to get married, and so impressing an elder in his family with his zither playing one evening that his reputation was upgraded to ne’er-do-well-who-plays-a-mean-zither,-and-that-has-gotta-mean-something. ]

Translation talk at Black Swan Books

translation

I will be checking out this rather cool topic in my rather cool and little city this weekend. Angela Carter and Stan Galloway are area poets whose work I have enjoyed hearing in person.

Printer extraordinaire Emily Hancock of St Brigid Press will also be bringing copies of the mini-broadside of my translation of Li Ho’s “Sky Dream” for the event. I will not be selling this myself and I’m not sure if Emily has it for sale yet on her site, but you can always write her if you’re interested in seeing more. The poem is printed on very thin Unryu paper backed by grey Magnani Pescia paper, in Bembo typeface. The matting creates the shape of the moon which of course our poet Li would not bother to name in his brilliant and strange piece of verse, and will I think be available in a variety of night-sky-ish colors.

I believe St Brigid Press will also be issuing this poem’s companion translation of Li Po’s work, as well as a few other translations of classical Chinese verse. And of course as I attend this event I’ll be taking with me my time-travelling version of Mei Yao-ch’en, the great 11th century poet with whom I have spent so much time these last few months…

LiHo_SkyDream_black

 

LiHo_colophon