Archive for 2012年11月


11月 30, 2012




Li Khin-huann

how far is the mouth from the tip of the brush?
how far from the tip of the brush is the street?
how far is the street from the court?
how far is the court from the jail?
how far is the jail from the shots?

how far is democracy from the court?
how far is democracy from the jail?
how many light-years away from the shots?

(Taiwan 1986)
Tr. Martin Winter, 2009-2014


Li Khin-huann

wie weit ist die pinselspitze vom mund?
wie weit von der strasse?
wie weit ist die strasse entfernt vom gericht?
wie weit ist es vom gericht zum gefängnis?
wie weit vom gefängnis zum schuss?

wie weit vom gericht ist die demokratie?
wie weit ist die demokratie vom gefängnis?
und wie viele lichtjahre vom schuss?

(Taiwan 1986)
Übersetzt von MW 2009-2014

11月 17, 2012


weiss und rosa leuchtend schweben
fortgetragen in die tage
unter allen irren menschen
bluehen zweifellos die baeume
wachsen, fallen, reifen, stehen
atmen, oeffnen sich im wind

MW April 2011


shine and float in white and pink
carried forth into the day
all among the loony people
certainly the trees are blooming
growing, falling, ripening
standing, breathing in the wind

MW April 2011


the danube flows

Photo by Ronnie Niedermeyer

再说中国新诗 300 首 (中英对照) 300 Modern and Contemporary Chinese Poems (Chinese-English)

11月 15, 2012

再说中国新诗 300 首 (中英对照)
Lucas Klein, translator of Xi Chuan 西川, has commented on 野鬼’s new anthology of 300 Modern and Contemporary Chinese Poems (Chinese-English) 中国新诗 300 首 (中英对照). Lucas Klein’s blog is called Notes on the Mosquito, like his new Xi Chuan translations compilation. Notes on the Mosquito as a title reminds me of Bei Dao’s 北岛 Harvest 收获, don’t know if that is intended.

There is Zhang Xinying’s 张新颖 fine anthology 中國新詩 from 2000 (in Chinese), incl. 2 interesting poems by Zhou Zuoren 周作人. Zhang has close to 100 poets and up to 10 poems from each of them. If you cover the last 30 or 40 years, it would have to be rather thick to include at least ten or twenty examples each from 食指、芒克、多多、楊煉、于堅、韓東、西川、伊沙等等,to mention only a few older living males.

My favorite contemporary anthology is 黃梁’s 大陸先鋒詩叢. 10 volumes came out in 1998/1999 – Bai Hua 柏华、Zhu Wen 朱文、Meng Lang 孟浪 etc. 等等. Another 10 came out in 2009, incl. Tibet’s poetess and dissident blogger Woeser 唯色, migrant worker poetess Zheng Xiaoqiong 郑小琼(鄭小瓊), and a few more not-so-well-known poets like Pang Pei 庞培(born 1962).

The new 300-poems-anthology is Chinese-English, but it seems the English versions will all be done by Chinese translators. Some translators could be native speakers of English, and/or writing poetry in English. But it does look like an inner-Chinese project, so to speak. The Chinese Issue of The Drunken Boat from 2006 provides a very broad spectrum in the categories minorities, gender and localities in Asia and beyond. Xi Chuan is prominently featured. The 2008 China issue of The Atlantic Review also has an interesting mixture and beautiful poems, incl. Xi Chuan. But these two anthologies are all in English. In my earlier blog post on this topic of anthologies I have written about the advantages of starting from women writers and minorities. That was in Chinese, sorry.

Huang Liang is operating in Taiwan, but he still had some trouble with Mainland authorities about meeting and publishing Woeser 唯色. The 300 modern poems anthology includes the blind folk singer Zhou Yunpeng 周云蓬, who is also in the 10/19/12 New Statesman issue curated by Ai Weiwei, along with Zuoxiao Zuzhou 左小祖咒. On the other hand, compiler Diablo 野鬼 (Zhao Siyun 赵思云 is not the editor) told me they could never include Li Qin’an’s 李勤安 When Martial Law Was Lifted 解嚴以後, because with books you have to worry much more about (self-)censorship than online. I think When Martial Law Was Lifted 解嚴以後 is a landmark poem in any sense. I like Xi Chuan’s poetry very much, but on the whole now and then it needs to be complemented with something more explicitly political. Actually you could say the same about Hsia Yu 夏宇, maybe. Anyway, Li Qin’an 李勤安 still sounds relevant in Taiwan today, according to some of my friends there. On the Mainland, the role(s) of poetry are more acutely questioned, also by Zhao Siyun 赵思云 and Diablo 野鬼 (Zhang Zhi 张智), for example. See Diablo 野鬼’s “非诗” and Zhao Siyun’s Lili’s Story 丽丽传.


11月 14, 2012


the noble

the nobel is stronger than china

china jumping up and down

on feet of clay

The situation is maddening for every serious literature critic who cannot acknowledge the encroachment of such a hyper-prize-situation on their territory. On the other hand, this is the perfect opportunity to see, and maybe even acknowledge, the impossible challenge of writing a balanced political or literature and art history of the last 100 years, or even 20 or 30. You could see the huge discrepancy between the international relevance of China and its surroundings and the impossibility for Chinese Studies (and Taiwan Studies etc.) of doing it justice in research, of reacting in adequate or satisfying ways. Actually, Anna Schonberg has found a convincing personal way of talking about Mo Yan’s work and the current debate. Goenawan Mohamad has written an article on Mo Yan and Yu Hua, seen from Indonesia. And Yang Jisheng’s investigation of the Great Leap famine is spawning documentary work in villages in the way of writing “people’s histories” in the People’s Republic. Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the US came out in 1979. China is catching up. There is Yang Xianhui, and there is 1942, a new film centered on famine, after the story Remember 1942 Liu Zhenyun wrote in 1992. But how relevant is literature on the whole?

Li Bai, China’s most famous poet, has been constructed as a would-be useful patriotic official in a recent play. I remember one or two other political readings of his poems. The political role of all literature and art that the CCP ostensibly demanded led to, or enforced overwhelmingly political reading of everything. Now Mo Yan cannot escape political criticism because he is a CCP official. He has written great literature. But because he got this larger-than-anything-even-China-in-a-way-prize, on one hand he can finally be a public intellectual, let his conscience speak and speak out for a return to reason in Chinese-Japanese relations and for a release of Liu Xiaobo, both taboo topics. A voice of reason after “street protests” against Japan (?), somehow evoking both Cultural Revolution and Fascism. Tolerated and stoked by a system in the midst of a supposedly tightly choreographed leadership transition. Leaders of the Bo Xilai generation installed. They’re different, of course.

Yang Jisheng in the international media is the perfect contrast, or antidote, to the 18th Party Congress spectacle. Another good contrast is running a detailed article on the One Child policy, like Die Zeit did. Speaking of family planning, Mo Yan’s Frogs is coming out soon in English and German. Granta magazine has an excerpt online.

Mo Yan spoke out, but he still was attacked because he didn’t speak out before, which is kind of unfair, because it would mean every writer has to be like Liao Yiwu, every artist like Ai Weiwei etc. The Nobel prize is very unique, because it entails so much international attention. And so especially societies with a huge inferiority complex, stemming at least in part from a rather recently constructed nation (as in Turkey) have to turn the recipient into an anointed emblem. The only alternative is to deny, like in Gao Xingjian’s case, that he/she belongs at all to the country he/she comes from and the language he/she wrote most of his/her works in, as Anne Sytske Keijser and Maghiel van Crevel have pointed out in a recent article in “De Groene Amsterdammer” (10/17/2012). In today’s China, for a virtual, fleeting audience online, you can show you are not part of this official face. Up to a point, that is. No mentioning of other recent Chinese Nobel laureates. But you can criticize Mo Yan, no matter if you have read his fiction or not. So anyone interested in freedom of speech has to be thankful to the Nobel prize and to Mo Yan for all the national and international attention they have generated. Mo Yan has chosen to speak out, so he should be respected. You can speak about your own impression of his work, as you should, according to Kant, if the question is “whether it is beautiful” (Critique of Judgement, Book 1). Or you can speak about your personal relationship with him and his work, as Howard Goldblatt has done. But you can also write about Mo Yan in a political light, which is what everybody has done, including me. Reading “Republic of Wine”, for example, both in Chinese and in translation, is much more rewarding.

The debate after Mo Yan won the Nobel is about debate. How much debate is allowed? How does debate get allowed or possible at all? It’s obedience vs. disobedience. What Charles Laughlin said on the MCLC list sounds like this: Demanding outspokenness from Mo Yan now is the same as demanding, in effect, obedience to the Party line in 1942. This is how it sounds like, not only to me, I am afraid. Obedience and disobedience are thus blurred. One-party systems enforce obedience and silence. Draconically, as the 8-year sentence on Oct.31 in Kunming of a young father of an unborn child for talking about a multi-party-system online shows. Multi-party systems include and tolerate traditions of disobedience. In some countries, civil disobedience is highly valued- think of Thoreau and Ghandi. Doesn’t mean these places are always better in every area and aspect.

Apart from Mo Yan and the Nobel subject discussed nobly or not, the New Statesman issue from Oct. 19-25 (guest-editor: Ai Weiwei) and the new issue of Words Without Borders provide worthwhile reading.


Dieses Leben: 今生:Erinnerung & Liebe 愛和記憶

11月 3, 2012

It was great. Lai Hsiangyin 賴香吟 read part of her story about a member of a former underground movement who has to confront his own weakness when his divorced wife needs his attention. I read Julia Buddeberg’s translation. Chen Kohua 陳克華 read three poems. First came Nothing 無, very Buddhist. Then a couple of last things. The last café 最後的咖啡館. The last motel 最後的汽車旅館. Very Taiwanese kind of motel dive. Secrete details, medical details, scientific details included in all three poems. Questions and answers. Audience members asked a few questions, and we had an interesting discussion. How and why did Ms. Lai write the story? What comes first, life or politics? And so on. Students, immigrants, veterans maybe, of Taiwan politics. Chinese Studies, East Asian Studies Institute, Vienna University 維也納大學東亞文化系. Austrian PEN. Two days in Vienna. Two nights. 維也納卌八小時左右。Arriving, getting lost on the airport. Translator’s fault. Translator’s idea, the whole thing. Not lucrative. I am sorry. Not smooth. Interesting, yes. Freezing. Exhausting. Fun. Fruitful, hopefully. Thanks very much! To the organizers. Thank you! Everyone who helped us. But above all 賴香吟、陳克華多謝!辛苦你們!Liebe. Liebe und Erinnerung. 愛和記憶。Love and memory. 賴香吟小說的主要題材。維也納很適合你們。柏林也是。柏林比較像現在的台北,相當開放、國際化的。柏林非常重視記憶。維也納的過去其實比柏林可怕,因為沒有柏林那麼公開的重視記憶。

So we had Q&A. Then the encore. We had Vienna in the café, in my translation. Apocalypse. Pouring coffee, to the last. Tabori. Hitler and Freud. Is there a Freud statue? There is his private clinic. Oh well. Statues of Strauss, Beethoven. Vivaldi, very recent. With his orphan students, all girls. Musicians, composers. When Aids broke out in Taiwan, the government forbade intercourse with foreigners. As well as doing it from behind. That’s how Chen Kohua thought of the poem. As a medical man. And risk group member. No intercourse with foreigners, no sex from behind, and we’ll be fine. Right. That’s where the quotation marks in the title come from. Freud and Jelinek. Dreams of Vienna. Love and memory.






Chen Kohua

Du näherst dich aus meinem früheren Leben.
Ich seh’ dich ganz klar, du gehst in meine Zukunft.
In die Zukunft der Zukunft.

Aber ich hab’ nur die Gegenwart. Wenn ich
traumlos aufwache,
hab’ ich jedesmal die Sorge,
dass ich dich verpasse, für immer —

Ich möchte zurück in den Augenblick des Fehlers,
den Film anhalten,
die Zeit und das Bild:
Für immer stehst du auf, um zu gehen.
Ich streck’ dabei die Arme aus.

Übersetzt von Martin Winter im November 2012

%d 博主赞过: