“Aku Wuwu (Luo Qingchun) is a well-known poet of the Nuosu branch of the Yi nationality of southwest China. The Yi are among the largest ethnic groups in China—numbering around seven million. Comprised of dozens of branches, the Yi live in mountainous areas in the provinces of Yunnan, Sichuan, Guizhou, and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Over two million Nuosu live in the Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture in the Liangshan Mountains of southern Sichuan and in the smaller Ninglang prefecture in northern Yunnan.”— from the Introduction by Mark Bender.
Mark Bender has done enormous service to the Yi people in China—and to readers worldwide—by seeking out and translating the work of Aku Wuwu, a leader in contemporary poetry in the Nuosu dialect. This slim volume contains Aku’s Chinese language and Nuosu language poems in translations by Bender, Aku, and Jjiepa Ayi. For each, the Chinese or Nuosu script is included as well. Most interesting is the accompanying audio CD, on which Aku reads his poems in both languages, with English versions read by Bender and Kate Polak.
Aku Wuwu’s poems appeared in MANOA’s volume Blood Ties: Writing Across Chinese Borders. An essay by Mark Bender on his translations from Yi appeared in a symposium in Manoa’s volume Silenced Voices: New Writing from Indonesia, and was reprinted in The Poem Behind the Poem: Translating Asian Poetry, edited by Frank Stewart (Copper Canyon Press, 2004).