Posts Tagged ‘spring.catastrophies’

POETRY IN CRISIS? 庄生访谈:十一问 – 11 QUESTIONS asked by Zhuang Sheng

三月 19, 2020

11 QUESTIONS asked by Zhuang Sheng

1. Could you please introduce yourself?
Martin Winter, Chinese name 维马丁, poet and translator from Chinese into German and English.
2. Where did you spend this year’s Spring Festival?
At home in Vienna. Yi Sha 伊沙 and six other poets from China (Tu Ya 图雅, Jiang Huhai 江湖海, Xiang Lianzi 湘莲子, Pang Qiongzhen 庞琼珍, Bai Li 白立 and Chun Sue 春树) had just left, after spending over two weeks in Austria in January. You could also say we had Spring Festival together, in Innsbruck in Tyrol in the alps, with poets there, and in Vienna, also with friends. Bai Li was our best cook, and all of them made really good food, we made Jiaozi together, you know, Chinese dumplings, and many other dishes. Yi Sha likes to cook tomatoes and eggs, very simple dish, but very good. We celebrated together, and they went back one day before the lunar new year.
3. How has this virus crisis affected you?
Actually, here in Austria it has only just started to affect everyone. Schools are closed, also most shops. I have been working from home before already, so there is no big change. But I have to be afraid of both short-term and long-term effects in the publishing world, in China and in Europe.
4. How do you spend your time now?
I work from home, so the only big change is that my wife and my son are also home all day. My daughter already has her own apartment, but it is close by. She moved in February, when it was still normal. She was with us on the weekend, we are going to see her again tomorrow or so. People are supposed to stay at home, but you can go shopping for food, medicine, tobacco.
5. How is your mood these days?
Ok, maybe a little worried, but ok, not bad.
6. What are you most satisfied with from before this crisis? Can you give an impression of the efforts against the virus in your location?
My poems. My work. My family, friends, contacts, local and international. The measures against the virus here in Austria and in Vienna have only just started in earnest. There is some criticism that tourism was stopped too late in Tyrol. People who came to ski from all over Europe, and some got sick there, maybe a lot.
7. What is the best thing you have eaten during this crisis?
My wife is at home, so she cooks more. She likes to buy lamb and beef from the Muslim halal butcher at the vegetable market close by. Our vegetables are from there too. My son likes to help with cooking. Today they made lasagna, from scratch. Most food shops are open, even some restaurants for take out. Some Chinese shops have closed. Hope there are still one or two open in the city. But that’s just for spices and sauces like 老干妈.
8. What has worried your family and relations in this crisis?
My parents stay at home. My sister lives very close to them, and her sons help them. One of them is studying to be a doctor, he was working in a hospital. Hope he is ok.
9. In this global crisis, what do you think about poets writing poetry? Have you written poetry in this time?
This is a very good time for writing, reading, translating, even for distributing and discussing poetry, at least online. I have followed the situation in China. People compared the slogans warning you not to go out, some of these were very nasty and violent, to the writing on boxes sent from Japan, relief goods for Wuhan. There was Tang poetry on there, to remind people of their common heritage. Something about mountains and streams, 山川異域, 風月同天. Reminds me of Du Fu, mountains and rivers remain. So people compared this ancient culture to the crude slogans and said we should learn from the Japanese. Then one guy wrote an article in the Yangtze daily 长江日报 on February 12 and quoted Adorno who said poetry after Auschwitz was barbaric, so we don’t need poetry from Japan, because of what the Japanese did in the war. Any simple slogan was better, no poetry required, he said. But Tang poetry is very much what defines China, Chinese culture, also poetry in general. So everyone trashed this guy online. And people wrote even more poetry than before, a lot of it related to the crisis. Poems for Dr. Li Wenliang, the eye doctor from Wuhan who was one of the early whistle-blowers in late December 2019, and got reprimanded, and continued to work and died from the virus. That was world news, everyone knows this, also here in Austria. So in China on the whole there is a creative burst in this crisis, which is a very good thing, it gives hope. Some of these new poems are really very, very good. Yes, I have written a few poems myself. Some are related to China. I’ll see how it goes here in Europe. People have to stay at home, so they have more time for artistic pursuits, making music, for example. Singing from the balconies.
10. When the crisis is over, what are you most eager to do?
Don’t know yet, it has only just started here. Go out, meet people. My book is coming out in China, “Finally We Have Snow”, translated by Yi Sha. Should have come out in February. So I had planned to present the book in China this spring, at the Austrian embassy in Beijing, and at other places, maybe Xi’an etc. Anyway, my expertise is in intercultural, international contact with Chinese language, literature, poetry. So I am most eager to work in this field.
11. What do you think about the global situation?
It has brought people together. It is good for the climate, hopefully also for the social climate locally and internationally. There are always people who play us and them, but people do have a lot in common, much more than we realize. And now we have this one thing in common, globally. Everybody seems to agree on that.






一月 22, 2013

Yi Sha
Yi Sha


when I was prepared
to enter spring
it snowed again

every snow
brings good feelings
makes me pray

dear god
for suicides tomorrow morning
let it snow once more
they need it

Tr. MW 2013/1







2008年开始翻译了几首,瑞士NZZ他们要很短的,所以最近给他们寄 《春雪》等等,从《尿床》一本台湾版选几首最短的。有《精神病患者》、《感恩的酒鬼》、《致敬》、《我想杀人》、《鸽子》等等。也许他们还会登出一两。 2008年偶尔读《雪天里的几种事物》,很喜欢,翻译了以后寄给报刊,他回答说很喜欢,不过一直未登出,太长。译文可以查看在这里

More poems by Yi Sha in German

Yi Sha became well-known in the 1990s for acerbic remarks on other poets. He has been widely criticized himself. Spring is a time of hope. The Chinese moon year begins with Spring Festival, the biggest holiday of the year. Typically for Yi Sha, this poem sounds rather mundane, laconic and depressing, dashing most expectations connected with poetry.  The line “For suicides tomorrow morning” is a little truncated in my German version that was printed in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (see image). “Für die Selbstmörder von morgen” makes a better rhythm than “Für die Selbstmörder von morgen früh”. In English I wasn’t tempted to leave out the morning. But you could say “dear god/for suicides in the morning/ let it snow once more.” In German there is something like a rhyme within the first two lines. When I was prepared/ To stride into spring/ it snowed again. Does it sound better this way in English too? You decide.
Why did I pick this particular poem? I didn’t pick it for publication. Andreas Breitenstein at NZZ (Neue Zürcher Zeitung) likes to print poems whenever he can wrangle a little space in any particular day’s edition. They have to be short. I had translated another poem by Yi Sha about snowfall in 2008. Mr. Breitenstein liked it, but it was too long. So I looked through Yi Sha’s collection Niao Chuang 尿床 (Wetting the bed), published in Taiwan in 2009. It’s a very nice edition. Huang Liang 黃梁, a critic in Taiwan, has brought out two ten-volume Series of Mainland Avantgarde Poetry 大陸先鋒詩叢, in 1999 and 2009. A great resource.  I just picked some of the shortest poems in there.

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