300 Modern Chinese Poems (Chinese-English) 汉英对照版《中国新诗300首》
Zhao Siyun 赵思运, who was introduced on the MCLC list by Michael Day a while ago with a poem called June 5th 六月五日, has a list of authors and poems on his Blog, for a Chinese-English anthology of over 300 modern Chinese poems 中国新诗300首. Compiled by an institution called International Poetry Translation and Research Centre, IPTRC. Very welcoming, diverse and expansive. Including writers from Taiwan, and many young voices. Liao Yiwu 廖亦武 is included, though not with his most representative work, probably. Lü Yuan 绿原 is there, he did a Chinese-German anthology, introducing Yu Jian 于坚 in 1990, rather early. Bei Dao 北岛 was included in there, but with a comparatively insignificant poem. He is better represented in this new effort, although I miss the mosquito. It’s very hard to include one or two significant poems from an author who is obviously politically significant.
Interesting to compare this with other anthologies, in Chinese and other languages. Zhongguo Xin Shi 中国新诗 (Fudan UP 2000), ed. Zhang Xinying 张新颖, has two poems by Zhou Zuoren 周作人, one against unnecessary water dams and a drinking song, both very impressive. Zhou Zuoren has not made it onto the IPTRC list. Of course it’s rather easy to come up with some of your favorites who are not represented, compared to shifting through many thousand poems and coming up with such a list. Huang Xiang 黄翔 is included, despite his dissident status, but he is already in Zhongguo Xin Shi 中国新诗. As usual, I am looking at newer people first, although I only recognize two from those born in 1970 or later. Zhou Yunpeng 周云蓬 is there, the blind folk singer. But not Cui Jian 崔健. Woeser 唯色 is there, which is great! But in general there are hardly any poets from minority nations in China.
Ha Jin 哈金 is missing, but he writes in English. Gao Xingjian 高行健 does not appear, but is mostly known for fiction and drama. So who else hasn’t made it? Yang Ze 楊澤、Hsiang Yang 向陽、Hung Hung 鴻鴻、Mai Mang 麦芒 (Huang Yibing 黄亦兵), who sometimes writes in English and teaches at Connecticut (there is another Mai Mang 麦芒 in China, known for one-liners).
On with the non-list: Sun Wenbo 孙文波、Li Nan 李南、Yang Jian 杨键、Zhu Wen 朱文、Yin Lichuan 尹丽川、Zheng Xiaoqiong 郑小琼、Ma Lan 马兰、Hong Ying 虹影、Pang Pei 庞培、Che Qianzi 车前子、Yan Jun 顏峻. I would have included Yan Jun’s 反对 Against All Organized Deception (translated by Maghiel van Crevel) and Ma Lan’s 事故和理由 The accident and the reason, maybe even combined with 仿佛 As If. And How We Kill a Glove 我们如何杀一只手套, if it wouldn’t be too long. Hong Ying’s 饥饿 Hunger, also written abroad. And one of Zheng Xiaoqiong’s 郑小琼 new female migrant worker’s portraits.
Then there would be others. Not compatible, maybe. Wu Yinning 吳音寧 and Li Ch’in’an 李勤岸 are very much from Taiwan. Wu Yinning 吳音寧 is more well-known for her reportages. The poems contain many fascinating local expressions, hard to translate. I’ve only read two poems by Li Ch’in’an 李勤岸, in a three-volume anthology of about 100 years of poetry in Taiwan. One of these two poems is a personal favorite, 解嚴以後 – 一九八七年七月十五日臺灣解嚴紀念 After Martial Law Was Lifted – In Commemoration of Lifting Martial Law in Taiwan on July 15th, 1987.
I have been reading a great anthology of Lithuanian poetry in the last few days. And there are beautiful anthologies of recent Chinese poetry in English, like the online treasure in the Spring/Summer 2006 issue of thedrunkenboat.com, edited by Inara Cedrins, or the Atlanta Review China issue. Without any Chinese characters, unfortunately. But these are important collections, with some great translations. The Drunken Boat collection is very diverse, including minority people in China, extra sections on Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore, as well as very much else from abroad. Even half of the non-minority nation poets in China who are in The Drunken Boat are not in the IPTRC 300. The Antlanta Review China collection, edited by George O’Connell, contains some of the best Chinese poetry I’ve read in translation anywhere in any language. And there is a good volume in English of Che Qianzi’s 车前子 poems and some of his friends, with a note in the back that the Chinese text can be found in some university library. Oh well. Many contemporary poets from China, including some world-famous ones, are not easily found in China. This has been going on for decades. Anyway, there is not enough modernity, not enough experiment in Chinese literature in general, especially in China. So it would be great to include some people like Che Qianzi 车前子 in any anthology. There is also not enough performance, that’s where Yan Jun 颜峻 and other sound and music stuff would come in.
The Lithuanian anthology mentioned above is from Poetry Salzburg Press. I love the long hallucinating love poem Bird in Freedom by Vytautas Bložė, written while imprisoned and “treated” in a Soviet psychiatric hospital. And the song-like evocations of Vilnius’ old city and the empty Jewish ghetto by Judita Vaičiūnaitė. The translations of these poems and many others by Laima Sruoginis are hauntingly beautiful. Much of the identity of the Baltic countries is built on songs, a great foundation for poetry.