Monday, December 26, 2011

"Translating a good deal of the 'paratext' as well as the text"

Yesterday, to no one's attention, I added the website Paper Republic to the "Best" category on the blogroll sidebar. I'm still combing through its archives, but if you want an idea why it's such a great read, check out Lucas Klein's May 11 post "A Good Translation of a Bad Poem?" and the ensuing discussion, from which this blog post's title quote is pulled. A quick excerpt:

But then I came across this poem:

Spring Dawn

From spring sleep
I awake before dawn
To a world filled
With birdsong

A stormy night
Wind and rain I recall
But of ten thousand blossoms
I wonder how many have fallen

I like this poem. I like the detail, the specificity of pre-dawn birdsong, the slight lilt of formalized poetic phrasing in l. 6, the suggestion of an ancient Chineseness in “ten thousand blossoms,” and especially the way the poem snuggles up against rhyme without taking it over (dawn / birdsong) before jettisoning it conspicuously (recall / fallen).

I'd also recommend these related sites:

  • Xiao Kang 2002: No updates for a while, but all bloggers out there, take note: sometimes it's wise to go for quality over quantity, because then your best work remains visible even after other affairs of the world suck up your time and attention; Xiao Kang 2002 is a prime example.

  • Notes on the Mosquito, a blog (by Lucas Klein) about poet Xi Chuan (whom I had the pleasure of hearing at the Bookworm) and "Chinese Poetry in English translation."

  • The always good Bruce Humes, whose site has been buried under the wrong category in the blogroll for much too long.

  • Twelve Hours Later: Chinese sci-fi.

  • And I think everyone knows about this already, but Popup Chinese is a site that's here to stay. Check out its podcast on the translation literary journal Pathlight, a copy of which arrived at my door today. (Pathlight is very good so far.)

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