New Cathay: Contemporary Chinese Poetry

91lnqiY2oxLedited by Ming Di
Tupelo Press, 2013

The most up-to-date anthology of contemporary Chinese poetry, translated by American poets and edited by the executive editor of the bilingual literary journal Poetry East West. Showcasing the achievement of Chinese poetry in the last twenty years, a time of tremendous literary ferment, this collection focuses on a diversity of exciting poets from the mainland, highlighting Duo Duo (laureate of the 2010 Neustadt International Prize for Literature) and Liao Yiwu (recipient of 2012 Peace Prize of the German Book Trade organization) along with not yet well-known but brilliant poets such as Zang Di and Xiao Kaiyu and younger poets Jiang Tao and Lü Yue. The anthology includes interviews with the poets and a fascinating survey of their opinions on “Ten Favorite Chinese poets” and “Ten Best-Known Western poets in China.”

“With its carefully-selected range of poets and choice of contents, New Cathay is an up-to-date and exciting take on Chinese contemporary poetry. …it stands on its own as a literary anthology of Chinese contemporary poets, and allows us to review the diversity of Chinese contemporary poetry in terms of poetic style and subject.” — Jennifer Wong, The Asian Review of Books

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Rhapsody in Black: Poems

51SYQfBrWaLby Jidi Majia; translated by Denis Mair
University of Oklahoma Press, 2014

An indigenous poet of the Nuosu (Yi) people of mountainous southwestern China, Jidi Majia is well known and celebrated among the Chinese. But his lyrical and worldly work, though widely published and honored, has not found its voice in English translation in the West. The poems in Rhapsody in Black, presented in Chinese and deftly translated by the gifted and respected Denis Mair, at long last introduce the English-speaking world to this remarkable Chinese writer. The poetry of Jidi Majia is deeply grounded in the myths and oral traditions of the Nuosu minority. It evokes times past but also speaks with eloquence of our global moment. Replete with cultural textures and local idiom, the poems provide an exquisite opening into the Nuosu world. In their ethnic richness, they also resonate with the voices of the indigenous and the dispossessed, from Native American and South American Indian poets to the African American and aboriginal Australian writers preserving and reshaping cultural identity. (Publisher’s description)

Jidi Majia was born in in Daliangshan, Sichuan, in 1961. He is the author of more than twenty collections of poetry. His work has been published in more than ten poetry anthologies, and has been translated into several languages. In 2006, he became the vice president of the China Poetry Association. Denis Mair has translated the work of numerous Chinese poets into English, including the volumes Reading the Times: Poems of Yan Zhi and Selected Poems by Mai Chen.

Seven Studies for a Self Portrait

41Keu8+dPiLby Jee Leong Koh
Bench Press, 2011

Jee Leong Koh’s third book of poems subjects the self to an increasingly complex series of personal investments and investigations. Ever-evolving, ever-improvisatory, the self appears first as a suite of seven ekphrastic poems, then as free verse profiles, riddles, sonnet sequences, and finally a divan of forty-nine ghazals. (Publisher’s description)

Aptly titled, this is an obsessively curated volume of free verse poems, riddles, sonnet sequences and ghazals; it comprises seven sections of seven poems each, save for the divan of forty-nine ghazals. Each section interrogates the self through a different mirror: through responses to art, the third person narrative, riddles, abstractions, translations of the Other, emotional landscapes, conversations with the self and appeals to a lover. Perhaps due to the ambition of its premise and intended scope, this anthology unfolds like a series of scientific experiments that don’t quite take off, save for a few and the rewarding title section ‘Seven Studies’. — Mascara Review)

Jee Leong Koh is the author of four books of poems, including Seven Studies for a Self Portrait. Born in Singapore, he lives in New York City, where he writes a blog and curates the website Singapore Poetry.

River of Light: A Conversation with Kabir

9781602232273by John Morgan; artwork by Kesler Woodward
University of Alaska Press, 2014

River of Light: A Conversation with Kabir is a book-length poem that takes readers on a weeklong raft trip down a river in southcentral Alaska. Bears, eagles, moose, seals, otters, and salmon inhabit the poem’s world, and the landscapes shift between glaciers, mountains, rapids, and waterfalls. The trip becomes a spiritual journey journey as well, as the poem includes commentary by fifteenth-century Indian mystic poet Kabir (pronounced kuh-BEER), who serves as a mentor to the narrator. The raft trip described in the poem took place in 2003, the year in which the second Iraq War began, so the war is on the narrator’s mind and becomes a metaphor for his inner struggles. However, the main story of the poem is the trip itself, which is influenced and shaped by the river’s waves and currents, and the wildlife and scenery that provide frequent surprises for the travelers. This volume includes artwork by Alaska artist Kesler Woodward. Woodward participated in the original raft trip and makes an appearance in the poem as well.

John Morgan was born in New York. He earned his MFA degree at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was awarded the Academy of American Poets’ Prize. He has perviously published four books of poetry, four chapbooks, and a collection of essays. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, PoetryAmerican Poetry Review, Paris Review, New Republic, Prairie Schooner, Yale Review, and other magazines and anthologies.

The Rose of Time: New & Selected Poems

51VajHwqrtLby Bei Dao
Edited by Eliot Weinberger
New Directions, 2010

The Rose of Time: New & Selected Poems is the newest collection from contemporary Chinese poet Bei Dao, spanning his entire writing career. Distinguished by humanist philosophies and experimental techniques, Bei Dao creates an alternative reality that can be sullen, bitter, and violent, yet also fertile and hopeful. His work attempts to understand the nature of identity, public and private afflictions, and human problems grounded in all modern societies. This bilingual edition includes a preface form the author and an afterward by the editor, Eliot Weinberger. (Publisher’s Description)

Bei Dao (born Zhao Zhenkai, 1949 in Beijing, China) founded the literary magazine Today (Jintian) along with Mank Ke. Bei Dao’s poems have been used as political anthems and humanistic tropes, most notably in the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. His work has been translated into twenty-five langauges. Bei Dao is currently a Professor of Humanities at the University of Hong Kong.

The Autochthon Poems

poems
by Simon Perchik
Split Shift, 2001

Simon Perchik was born in Paterson, New Jersey. He is best known for his personal, non-narrative style of poetry. In addition to The Autochthon Poems, Perchik has published seventeen books. His works have appeared in numerous print magazines, including The New Yorker, Partisan Review, AGNI, Poetry, The Nation, North American Review, Weave Magazine, Beloit, and CLUTCH .

So We Lost Paradise: Selected Poems

So We Lost Paradise by Juan Cameronby Jaun Cameron
With translations by Cola Franzen, Steven F. White, and Roger Hickin
Cold Hub Press, 2013

Jaun Cameron was born in Valparaíso in 1947. For many years, his poems reflected the realities of living under a dictatorship and then in exile. Members of his own generation were just commencing their literary careers when the Pinochet dictatorship began. To circumvent draconian censorship laws that forbade any criticism of the regime, these writers resorted to a coded language. Not belonging to any official group, Cameron could not earn a living, and after some years of struggle, he emigrated to Sweden, where he remained for ten years. He is now back in Valparaíso with his wife, graphic artist Virginia Vizcaino. Apart from three chapbooks translated by Cola Franzen, So We Lost Paradise is the first selection of Cameron’s poetry to appear in English.

Cola Franzen is an American writer and translator who has published fifteen books of translations. In 2000 her translations of Jorge Guillen’s poetry, Horses in the Air and other poems, won the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award from the Academy of American Poets.

Steven F. White has translated and edited many volumes of Spanish poetry. His translation with Greg Simon of Lorca’s Poet in New York was widely acclaimed.

Roger Hickin is a New Zealand poet and visual artist, and editor of Cold Hub Press.