“You’re stepping on my shadow, please back off,” she said.

Sun Yisheng / Nicky Harman

Endure: Poems by Bei Dao

By Lucas Klein, published

My co-translation with Clayton Eshleman of Endure: Poems by Bei Dao is now out by Black Widow Press in a special edition by arrangement with New Directions, limited to 1200 copies (so hurry before they're gone!)--contact Black Widow for yours!

Of particular interest to readers of Paper Republic may be the appendix,

comprising Clayton's and my back-and-forth over translation of one poem in the volume (also available with different formatting in the current issue of Ezra: An Online Journal of Translation; see the Archives for the full file).

The first line of the poem in question is 千百個窗戶閃爍, which we translated as "A hundred thousand windows shimmer." Interesting to note, though, is that after the proofs were submitted, I came across this sentence in Bonnie McDougall and Susette Ternent Cooke's translation of Bei Dao's Waves 波動: "Streets and roofs were faintly visible under a thin smear of mist, and a hundred thousand windows glinted in the setting sun, shining with a strange light" (p. 65 in the Chinese University Press publication; the New Directions volume has different pagination). The Chinese of that sentence reads, 一抹薄霧覆蓋著隱約可見的街道和屋頂,千百扇窗戶在夕陽下燃燒,閃著奇異的光 (p. 61 of the CUP Chinese edition). The image seems to have been in Bei Dao's mind for a long time, and found different translations in his writing at different times in his life.

Comments

# 1.   

Wow, congratulations! Very curious how a project like this started and how long it took -- did you have the idea, or Eshelman? Which one of you got the rights from Bei Dao? Why isn't he publishing with the other translators that did his work?

Tom, June 6, 2011, 4:18p.m.

# 2.   

Congrats to both Lucas and Clayton! Great to see more Bei Dao coming out. Lucas, use your superpowers to add this book to the database!

 Eric Abrahamsen, June 6, 2011, 10:44p.m.

# 3.   

Thanks, Tom!

Those questions are mostly addressed in our introduction, but in short, Clayton--who's known Bei Dao for decades--asked me for insight into some of his earlier work for an event he was doing in Bei Dao's honor at Naropa the summer of '09. That turned into us collaborating on new versions of those pieces, which then spread to a total of 31 poems, mostly from the mid-'90s. Once we secured permission from New Directions, which has been publishing Bei Dao's work since '89, we were able to publish Endure with Black Widow.

Bei Dao continues to work with New Directions and with Eliot Weinberger on his newest poetry--see Unlock (2000) and The Rose of Time (2010)--and an array of translators for his prose, of which there has been a lot recently, much not yet translated into English.

Lucas

Lucas Klein, June 7, 2011, 5:56a.m.

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