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

Advertisements

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.