Canaan Morse (1985 – ) 莫楷


Canaan Morse is a translator, poet and editor currently based in Boston. He is an original member of Paper Republic and co-founder of Pathlight: New Chinese Writing, for which he was the first Poetry Editor. His translations and book reviews have appeared in several international journals both in print and online, and he was the winner of the 2014 Susan Sontag International Prize for Translation. He holds an M.A. in Classical Chinese Literature from the Chinese Language and Literature Department at Peking University.

Ge Fei, The Invisibility Cloak, New York: New York Review Books Publishing House, 2016 (forthcoming)

Tang Siu Wa, Three Poems, in Asymptote Journal 2015 (forthcoming)
He Qifang, Magic Grass, in Eleven Eleven Journal, Winter 2014
He Qifang, Painted Dreams, in Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, December 2013
Wong Leung Wo, Old Things, part of the series Words and the World, published by Chinese University Press, 2011
He Qifang, Elegy, in The Kenyon Review, Summer 2010
He Qifang, Streets, The Weeping Yangtze , in Chinese Literature Today (inaugural issue), July 2010

Canyon in the Body by Lan Lan at World Literature Today, Winter 2015
Changing the Way We Read: A Review of Hsia Yu's Salsa on Paper Republic, Fall 2014
Say What You Won't: Xi Chuan's Enough for a Dream on Paper Republic, Fall 2011

“The Mo Yan Effect On Chinese Literature,” on Wall Street Journal blog China Real Time
--- “Found in Translation: Five Chinese Books You Should Read.”

Canaan Morse translated for READ PAPER REPUBLIC, week 24, 26 November 2015.


Read Now: On Paper Republic

Dark Alley by Wang Anyi May 05, 2016
The Young Couple by Shen Congwen November 26, 2015

Read Now: Around the Web

Hard Objects by Yang Xiaobin The Baffler
The Lighthouses by Yang Xiaobin The Baffler
Motoko Smiles (excerpt) by Joy Chaung Books from Taiwan

Book Publications

Peach Blossom Paradise cover

Peach Blossom Paradise

Ge Fei

October 15, 2020

That We May Live cover

That We May Live

Chan Chi Wa, Chen Si'an, Tam Yee Lok, Dorothy (Hiu Hung) Tse, Yan Ge and Zhu Hui | Natascha Bruce, Michael Day, Audrey Heijns, Canaan Morse and Jeremy Tiang

March 10, 2020

The Invisibility Cloak cover

The Invisibility Cloak

Ge Fei

October 11, 2016

Original Works

Poem (5)

All Translations

Poem (14)

Short story (11)

Novel (2)

Excerpt (2)

The Paper Republic database exists for reference purposes only. We are not the publisher of these works, are not responsible for their contents, and cannot provide digital or paper copies.


Call for Poetry Translators for Pathlight #4

By Canaan Morse, September 3, '12

Chinese content for our next edition of Pathlight: New Chinese Writing has been set in soap, and I'm glad to announce that this issue will include far more poetry than any of the previous issues have. Faced with an abundance of work and a dearth of talented contacts, this is a call for motivated, experienced translators of Chinese poetry to establish a relationship with us. To be featured are Zhu Ling (朱零), Ou Ning (欧宁), Yao Feng (姚风) , Wang Yin (王寅), Wang Xiaolong (王小龙), Yang Zi (杨子), Huang Jinming (黄金明) , Liao Weitang (廖伟棠) and Yang Xiaobin (杨小滨). The deadline is coming up soon; we'll do our best to assign poems based on their relationship with the translator, and first drafts will be due in mid-September. Compensation is, if I may say so, exceptional for poetry. If interested, please send an email either to or


New on the Shelves: Ge Fei's "The Invisibility Cloak"

By Canaan Morse, September 3, '12

Three days ago, I hit up the People’s Literature Publishing House booth at the Beijing International Book Fair. One of PR’s best friends and industry contacts was on duty, and I stopped by to pick up a book and see how the work we’d done for them had come out. By the way, she said, Ge Fei has a new book out with us called The Invisibility Cloak. I asked her what she thought. She didn’t like it. Why not? A lot of unresolved suspense, she said, and it was too ambiguous. You didn’t know what to feel about it. But the writing was mature. Bells ringing dimly in my back brain, I took a copy. We long ago discovered that it often takes a negative review from her to spark our interest. By yesterday night, I had chewed through all one hundred eighty-eight pages, a pace I admit to not having reached since high school.


Reading from Xi Chuan's "Notes on the Mosquito"

By Canaan Morse, May 4, '12

Lucas Klein will be reading selections from Notes on the Mosquito, a collection of the poetry of Xi Chuan in Lucas's English translation, recently published by the tweedy untouchables at New Directions. Xi Chuan will be there, too. In case "time" and "place" are concepts that matter to you, the schedule says May 10th, 7:30 at the Beijing Bookworm.

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LBF Market Focus Reception: Expensive Hot Air

By Canaan Morse, April 16, '12

Had anyone doubted whether or not China would actually come to the Fair, he may rest assured. The Chinese delegation hosted a Market Focus Reception at the Mandarin Oriental last night, branded with their hallmark of unbelievable expenditure, and the British came along for the ride. Polituburo Standing Committee member Li Changchun gave the opening speech and Prince Andrew followed right after him. Substantial speeches by Mr. Wu something-or-other, the chief of GAPP, and Tie Ning, Party Secretary for the China Writers Association.

Chandelier light glossed the black silk shoulders of the security personnel in a ballroom crowded like a Beijing train platform. Amid the heavy odor of warm Chanel, the China Market Focus at the London Book Fair was rung in with forty minutes of rhetoric about the earth-shattering importance of literature by people who have never written a poem in their lives. (the exception being Tie Ning, for whom the transformation is even more remarkable.) Inspiring, truly. Meanwhile, the reading of excerpts from work by three of the Chinese authors, scheduled for the second half of the ceremony, was canceled due to time concerns.


China in Ten Words: Yu Hua Pulls Out the Big Guns

By Canaan Morse, March 14, '12

Never forget class struggle! The Proletarian just came back from two events at the Bookworm: a conversation with crime novelist Mai Jia (yours truly translating) and Yu Hua's second introduction of his most recent book, China in Ten Words (十个词汇里的中国, supposedly masterfully translated by Alan Barr), featuring Eric as interpreter. The Mai Jia event was passably interesting, but Yu Hua damn near brought the political house down, and so while it may contain elements of mainstream sensationalism, we're going to talk about him.


The February Paper Republic Newspaper, or, Online Literature about Online Literature

By Canaan Morse, March 5, '12

The latest edition of Paper Republic's industry newsletter is done and making its way into subscribers' inboxes right now. Included in this edition are notes on the Cambridge China library, an update on the Writer's Alliance lawsuit, a toothy scad of new book descriptions and a very comprehensive overview of the state of online literature in the Pee Are See.

If you sign up in the next few hours here, you can still get in on the action.

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International Poetry Nights Hong Kong, Day 2

By Canaan Morse, November 15, '11

3:00 p.m. @ City University
Panel: Writing Across Languages
Moderator Lucas Klein
Panelists Bejan Matur (Turkey), Tian Yuan (China/Japan), Yao Feng (China), Tomaž Šalamun (Slovenia)

This turned out to be an interesting event, though not quite for the reasons I imagined; though I hoped at first to hear a lot of good debate, I see now my notes all dwell on the statements given by each poet at the panel’s beginning. The poets were very well selected, as each one moving away from his or her native language into another, later having to negotiate the distance between the two (or three). Bejan went from Kurdish to Turkish (get to her in a sec), Tomaž has written in Slovenian, French and English, Yao Feng has tried Portuguese and Tian Yuan, who lives in Japan, writes often in Japanese. Discussion shifted midway through the panel from the limits of certain languages to the translatability of poetry, where both Ezra Pound and Robert Frost raised their fearsome heads.

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International Poetry Nights Hong Kong, Day 1: Notes

By Canaan Morse, November 13, '11

Sacrifice everything to express our loyalty to Mao Zedong thought! The Proletarian just spent three days in Hong Kong, that lair of capitalist excess, attending a poetry festival organized by Bei Dao through the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Starting last Thursday (11/10) and only finishing Sunday afternoon (11/13), "International Poetry Nights Hong Kong" featured nightly readings by guest poets from around the world and moderated panels during the day. Something like twenty poets were invited, while a number of writers and translators came out of their own interest. Unfortunately, the various events were held separately in four different university venues around Kowloon, so not even this determined student could make it to all of them. Bad notes and not enough coffee make holes in my record inevitable, but if we’re lucky, IPNHK board member and PR contributor Lucas Klein will appear in time and italics to correct me. If you would like to read his perspective on the events in another format, visit his blog, Notes on the Mosquito.

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Movin' On Up: Paper Republic Signing Contracts with People's Literature

By Canaan Morse, September 24, '11

I would say, Watch out, Eric's been putting his name on legally binding documents, but it's good news! Last week, PR signed a pair of contracts with People's Literature Publishing House (人民文学出版社) in which we agreed to provide translation, marketing and representation services for the People's Literature booklist. We'll be reviewing both their new and old titles, creating English introductions and samples and selling the really good ones. We've actually been doing this with them for a few months now already, this just makes it official!

For translators, this means we are going to have an abundance of high-quality work to do in just the next couple of months. While most pieces will be fairly short (5,000 words or so), we do have one large-scale translation in the pipeline that will require samples for their review. All payment will be done by us, which means the money will be GOOD. We promise. That's why we're in this business. So send an email either to me (Canaan) or Eric at (our first, preferably with a resume, and let us know you're interested!


Crossing the River by Feeling the Stones: A Brief Review of Bei Dao in Translation

By Canaan Morse, September 16, '11

Endure: Poems by Bei Dao. Trans. Clayton Eshleman and Lucas Klein. Boston: Black Widow Press. 2011. 131 pages, CN/EN duotext. ISBN: 978-0-9842640-8-7

When reading a well-known poet for the first time, it’s natural to distrust one’s ear—to hold the poet’s reputation in the periphery of one’s mental sight and weigh one’s own judgments against it. This even more so for poetry in translation, as one assumes a great distance between the accessible translation and (often) inaccessible original, which converses with such a different audience. Such considerations make it easy to play down genuine impressions of the text and be timid where one should be bold.

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Beijing International Book Fair, Day 1: Nice Books You're Not Allowed to Look At

By Canaan Morse, September 1, '11

Yesterday was the first day of Beijing’s 18th annual International Book Fair, now in a new venue, the New China International Exhibition Center (新国展), which is right next to the airport in Shunyi. The location is huge: the fair is only using four of eight total exhibition rooms in one of the three main buildings, and even then the space feels pretty empty. This year’s Guest of Honor is The Netherlands, who have set up a white-and-pale blue pavilion reminiscent of the Shanghai Expo last year, and they are joined in their hall by representatives from all the major European and Asian countries. That same space houses all the major foreign publishing enterprises who came to the fair, and it is one clear center of activity. Penguin has a huge booth; W.W. Norton, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, MacMillan, McGraw-Hill, Harper’s and Hachette are all here, as well as the major university presses from England and America.

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Next Translation Slam at The Bookworm

By Canaan Morse, August 5, '11

We admit to being despicably late with this, and hope that Kadi defer from poisoning our coffee.

The Bookworm and English Trackers are hosting another Translation Slam and looking for two Chinese to English translators. How it works: translators tackle a Chinese text, and then present their versions on stage, fielding questions from the audience. This month, we will be translating an excerpt from the script (600 characters) of the play The Great Bruce Lee Romance: a Beijing Love Story. Full of love, angst and Beijing hua this original piece is sure to strike a chord with Beijingren of all nationalities. You will be given the excerpt as well as a synopsis in English for additional background information. If you are interested, please contact Kadi (kadi@chinabookworm) for more information about the event and payment. The event will be held Wednesday, August 17 at 7:30pm at The Bookworm.


Remembered, Not Memorialized: May 4th, 1919

By Canaan Morse, May 4, '11

For us at PR not to give a nod to today would be negligence.

Reports have been that the CCP has gone to lengths this year to keep people from publicly commemorating this day through discussion or presentation. At first thought, it seems unsurprising, but there is something special about the sensitivity of May 4th. It represents a movement the government would like either to appropriate or ignore, because it cannot afford to forget it.

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