S H I N Y U P A I
Recent interest in contemporary Chinese poetry has largely emphasized new work coming out of mainland China, as reflected in features at Drunken Boat, How2, and Zhang Er's recent Chinese poetry portfolio here at the pages of Fascicle.
A large body of innovative and engaging Chinese poetry is being written today across the Formosa Strait in Taiwan, as collected together in anthologies such as Frontier Taiwan and Mercury Rising, and featured at the online magazine Full Tilt. This work distinguishes itself in its cultural and political orientation and a cosmopolitan range of influences, forming its own unique tradition distinct from the poetry of the mainland.
In December 2005, I traveled to Taipei to complete a two-and-a-half-month writer's residency at the Taipei Artist Village, a program sponsored by the Taipei City government. The Commissioner of Cultural Affairs, Dr. Hsien-hao Liao, is a poet who supports the literary arts thru the Taipei Artist Village initiative, as well as the sponsorship of the Taipei Poetry Festival which showcases international and local poets. In reading the anthologies published by the Cultural Commission to accompany past festivals, I was introduced to exciting work by poets of the region. I used the occasion of my residency as an opportunity to interview and dialogue with several local poets* and translators living and working in Northern Taiwan. These interviews are published alongside new and recent translations. Working across a range of disciplines and genres from film to music, the profiled poets speak on identity and influence, hybridity, and publishing in Taiwan.
Chen Li offers three distinct incarnations of his poem “War Symphony”, as a recorded sound piece, a visual poem, and an animation. Lyricist and poetic innovator Hsia Yu is translated by Andrea Lingenfelter and interpreted by Melusine Lin, who sets Hsia Yu's lyrical tribute to influential Chinese novelist Eileen Chang to musical composition. Melusine Lin also translates the work of Amang Hung, a contemporary poet based in Taipei. Hung Hung, acclaimed filmmaker and curator of the Taipei Poetry Festival, offers poems inspired by John Zorn, cinema, and local civic disputes. Ye Mimi, a student in the Dong Hwa University Institute for Creative Writing – the only graduate program of its kind in Taiwan – and the youngest of the poets in this feature, is introduced by Steve Bradbury, who also presents a new pair of Shang Qin translations that are part of his forthcoming collection from Zephyr Press. Zona Tsou, a translator and graduate of National University of Taiwan also provides an engaging interview with Shang Qin on his life and poetry, conducted on the heels of Typhoon Bilis.
I am grateful to the various translators who gave their time to working with these poets and poems. For additional reading, please see the extended reading list.
Shin Yu Pai
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* All poets profiled were available for interviewing with the exception of Hsia Yu.
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