On Listening to Enemy Radio

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Yurou Zhong’s translation of “On Listening to Enemy Radio,” by Ah Cheng. The translation appears below, but is best read at its online home: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/online-series/zhongyurou/.


Kirk Denton, editor

On Listening to Enemy Radio

By Ah Cheng[1]

Translated by Yurou Zhong

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright July 2017)

Ah Cheng as an educated youth in Yunnan, circa 1970.

June 4, 1989 marked the end of the 1980s, concluding the decade one year early. The year 1976 had ended the 1970s, bringing that decade to a close four years early. However, adding the last four years of the 1970s to the next nine-year decade, it could be said the 1980s lasted for thirteen years. As for the decade of the 1970s, it really started from the beginning of the Cultural Revolution. From 1966 to 1976, that was ten whole years. To use “decade”[2] to measure time is neither accurate nor appropriate. Life is not like pork and cannot be measured one slice at a time. For me, the 1970s was long. Every day stretched out like a year.

One day, when I was laboring away in the mountains, I realized that all the history books I had read since I was little concerned big events and the people involved in them. But there were only a handful of big events in those people’s lives. How did they live out the rest of their eventless and mundane lives? Did they also experience the same feeling I did of their days stretching on and on without end? The 1970s was the best time for me, with my endless energy and quick reactions, so quick that I could hardly keep up with myself. I had to constantly tell myself: Slow down and slow down a bit more; you have nothing but time. Continue reading

translation of Gong Zizhen poem?

I have just translated a recent essay by Li Ling 李零. Toward the end of the essay, Li cites a poem by Gong Zizhen 龚自珍 entitled “Yong shi” 咏史 (Intoning history). I’m wondering if there is an English translation of this poem that I can adopt or consult for my translation of Li Ling’s essay. Please send any responses to me directly at the email below.

Stand, special issue on Chinese writing

Stand Issue 213, Volume 15 Number 1

Cover image by Ruihua Zhang

Stand Issue 213, Volume 15 Number 1 (March – May 2017)
Chinese Journeys: a special issue on new Chinese writing featuring poetry, prose, translations and commentary

Table of Contents

Frances Weightman, Editorial

Yan Ge 颜 歌, The Panda Suicides Continue reading

I Am Fan Yusu (2)

Source: Whats On Weibo (5/10/17)
“I Am Fan Yusu” (我是范雨素) (Full Translation)

In late April of 2017, Fan Yusu became an overnight literary sensation in China when her essay “I am Fan Yusu” was published on online platform Noonstory.com and soon went viral. Here is a full translation of the original Chinese essay. Translation provided by What’s on Weibo.

“I Am Fan Yusu,” by Fan Yusu


My life is like a book that’s dreadful to read – fate has made its bookbinding very messy. I am from Xiangyang in Hubei, and started to do private teaching at the local village school when I was twelve. If I wouldn’t have left, I would have continued to teach and would have become a proper teacher. But I couldn’t bear to stay in the countryside and view the sky from the bottom of the well, so I came to Beijing. I wanted to see the world. I was twenty years old at the time. Continue reading

Iron Moon review (3)

Another review of Iron Moon.–Kirk

Source: Lit Hub (5/1/17)
The Chinese Factory Workers Who Write Poems on Their Phones
“An Unprecedented opportunity in the History of Working Class Literature.”
By Megan Walsh

It’s hard to think of anywhere in the world where becoming a poet is a canny career move, but this is especially true for the poorest and most disadvantaged trying to get a foothold in China’s frenzied special economic zones.

In recent years there have been a flurry of documentaries highlighting the hardships of China’s migrant workers, but the 2015 film Iron Moon drew attention to a very specific figure: the migrant worker poet. It follows several young writers battling economic and cultural prejudice in their attempts to sublimate 14-hour shifts on assembly lines into lines of poetry. We watch the young, tender-minded Wu Niaoniao (whose name means Blackbird) wandering from stand to stand in Guangzhou’s vast strip-lit Southern China Job Market, enquiring about editorial positions on internal factory newspapers. With a knowing mix of fatalism and hope that permeates the poetry of China’s migrant workers, he reads a poem and awaits their responses with a sheepish smile. Continue reading

Burton Watson, 1925-2017 (3)

The NYT has finally published an obituary for Burton Watson.–Kirk

Source: NYT (5/3/17)
Burton Watson, 91, Influential Translator of Classical Asian Literature, Dies

Burton Watson, whose spare, limpid translations, with erudite introductions, opened up the world of classical Japanese and Chinese literature to generations of English-speaking readers, died on April 1 in Kamagaya, Japan. He was 91.

His death was confirmed by his nephew William Dundon.

For nearly six decades, Mr. Watson was a one-man translation factory, producing indispensable English versions of Chinese and Japanese literary, historical and philosophical texts, dozens of them still in print. Generations of students and teachers relied on collections like “Early Chinese Literature” (1962), “Chinese Lyricism: Shih Poetry From the Second to the Twelfth Century” (1971), “From the Country of Eight Islands: An Anthology of Japanese Poetry” (1981) and “The Columbia Book of Chinese Poetry: From Early Times to the 13th Century” (1984). Continue reading

Literary Translation in Practice 2017

Literary Translation in Practice 26th – 30th June 2017, City University London

Are you a practising professional or a newcomer to the art of translation? Develop your translation skills under the guidance of top professionals at a central London campus. An immersion course in literary translation into English across genres – including selections from fiction. poetry, history, essays, journalism, travel and academic writing – taught by leading literary translators and senior academics, with plenty of opportunities for networking.

• Arabic – Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp
• Chinese – Nicky Harman
• French – Trista Selous and Frank Wynne
• German – Shaun Whiteside
• Italian – Howard Curtis
• Japanese-Angus Turvill
• Polish – Antonia Lloyd-Jones
• Portuguese – Daniel Hahn
• Russian – Robert Chandler
• Spanish – Peter Bush
• Swedish – Kevin Halliwell Continue reading

Burton Watson, 1925-2017 (2)

Thanks for the links, Magnus. I’m glad to see an official obituary, finally.

I’ve been collecting remembrances from Watson’s friends, students, and fans—scholars, translators, and poets—on my blog, and so far have put up pieces by Victor Mair, Jesse Glass, Jeffrey Yang, John Bradley, Jonathan Chaves, Sam Hamill, J. P. Seaton, Chloe Garcia Roberts, Deb Wallwork and Mike Hazard, and  John Timothy Wixted. You can see them all here: http://xichuanpoetry.com/?cat=1774

Lucas Klein <lklein@hku.hk>

Burton Watson, 1925-2017 (1)

More notes on Burton Watson, the great translator and scholar, who just passed away.




I myself only spoke to him once. But I have enjoyed his work tremendously over the years, and also used it in teaching. It shines with the same generosity that came across in his voice that one time.

— Magnus Fiskesjö <nf42@cornell.edu>

Camel · Nietzschean and Woman

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Sean Macdonald’s translation of “Camel · Nietzschean and Woman,” by Mu Shiying, as part of our online publication series. The translation appears below and online at: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/online-series/macdonald/


Kirk Denton, editor

Camel · Nietzschean and Woman

By Mu Shiying[1]

Translated by Sean Macdonald

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright April 2017)


The spirit will become a camel.

Many heavy things await the spirit over there, await that weight-bearing, strong, and awesome spirit: because the heavy and the heaviest things are able to increase its strength.

“What is heavy anyway?” So asks the weight-bearing spirit; thus it kneels down like a camel, preparing to be well laden again.

“What is the heaviest thing, you heroes?” asks the weight-bearing spirit. “Allow me to bear those things, so that I may rejoice in my strength.”

. . . all those heavy things, the weight-bearing spirit takes it all onto its back, like a laden camel galloping toward the desert, the spirit thus speeds toward its desert. (from “Of the Three Metamorphoses” in Thus Spoke Zarathustra)[2] Continue reading

Burton Watson, 1925-2017

Source: Notes on the Mosquito (4/3/17)
Burton Watson, 1925 – 2017

https://i1.wp.com/xichuanpoetry.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/A41A6373-2.jpg?resize=229%2C307Burton Watson, the greatest translator of premodern poetry and prose from Chinese and Japanese, passed away on the evening of April 1, 2017, at Hatsutomi Hospital in Kamagata City, Chiba, Japan. He was 91.

I have so far been unable to find an obituary. I am reposting “Not Altogether an Illusion: Translation and Translucence in the Work of Burton Watson,” which I wrote for World Literature Today, published in May of 2014.

Ascent and grounding describe as well Watson’s reconciliation of the scholarly and poetic demands of translation: the solidity of his knowledge of classical Chinese finds expression in an English that calls attention to itself primarily in how it barely calls attention to itself. It is an extension of the overall architecture of the regulated verse form, down to the “succession of highly disciplined maneuvers” that define the antithetical parallelism of their middle couplets at their best. Where others have presented poetry and translation as forever at odds, Watson’s work sees this conflict as its own static tableau and reduces it to a productive part of his own translational poetics.

Lucas Klein

Shenzheners review

Source: Chinese Literature of the Americas 紅杉林: 美洲華人文藝 (12.1, Spring 2017)
China: Loneliness behind Sound and Fury—– On Xue Yiwei’s Shenzheners
Reviewed by Amy Hawkins

There is a temptation commonly indulged amongst China watchers to bemoan the loss of the “real China”. With the rapid urbanisation and globalisation of the past few decades, China is, of course, not what it used to be. Where there were once stony paths and local residents nursing flasks of boiled water, you can now buy decaf soy lattes. The “locals” you meet in any given city in China are unlikely to be anything of the sort – one of the many demographic changes that have reshaped China’s landscape is the huge migration of people towards the cities and new economic centres of China. This is most evident at Chinese New Year, when tens of millions of people return to their hometowns to celebrate Spring Festival with their families, and become part of the biggest annual human migration in the world. The cities are deserted. Continue reading

Can Xue’s Frontier review (1)

List members who read my review of Frontier should know that the word “regressed,” an editorial intervention, in the phrase “Ge Fei and Yu Hua regressed to representational prose,” has been changed back to my original “returned” in an updated version online. I in no way meant to imply that authors’ choice to re-engage with literary realism constituted “regression.”

Canaan Morse <canaan.morse@gmail.com>

Can Xue’s Frontier review

Source: Music and Literature (3/14/17)
Reviewed by Canaan Morse

Frontier by Can Xue tr. Karen Gernant and Chen Zeping (Open Letter, March 2017) Reviewed by Canaan Morse

Frontier by Can Xue tr. Karen Gernant and Chen Zeping (Open Letter, March 2017)

Reading is an act that requires memory. As a reader’s eyes move through text, the connections between sequences of events, characters and parts of the psyche, or even such micro elements as first and last sentences, and even subject and predicate, only become comprehensible when they can be recalled and reconstituted in the human mind. Likewise, the act of narration traditionally involves a mnemonic operation: the narrative includes “first” and “last” sentences, and introduces characters, themes and plots in ways that reward the use of memory. At the heart of this dialogue between narrator and reader is a pact of comprehensibility, enforced by tradition; two thousand years ago, Aristotle demanded that time, place, and action be unified in drama, but that compact had been around long before he, and continues to hold sway in the mainstream today. Even as innumerable creative writers have bent or broken that pact in innumerable ways, most of us begin a book with the fundamental assumption that it will be upheld on a sentence-to-sentence level. Continue reading

Yang Mu’s The Completion of a Poem

With apologies for my self-promotion, I am happy to announce that my translation of Yang Mu’s The Completion of a Poem: Letters to Young Poets (Brill, 2017) has been published


Yang Mu, winner of the Newman Prize for Chinese Literature in 2013 and the Cikada Prize in 2016, is one of the most important poets writing in Chinese. The Completion of a Poem is the first book-length English translation of his poetics.

List members may be interested to use the book as a text for courses in modern Chinese poetry, Chinese literary studies, comparative literature, poetics, and translation studies.

Lisa L M WONG <hmlmlisa@ust.hk>