by 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.