Tinfish in Translation Collection

Tinfish in Translation Collection
2016-2017, $54 (25% off cover price)


Shiro Murano On Lost Sheep

Shiro Murano (1901-1975) was a Japanese Modernist poet, influenced by other poets from Basho to Rilke to T.S. Eliot. His poems fulfill Eliot’s edict against personality, as they come at stark issues like death in non-autobiographical form. And yet there’s tenderness here, where, “A poet’s heart / [is] something like a dove / Still, under the branch / Something uncanny  and alarming.” This is Murano’s first full-length book in English, ably translated by Goro Takano, a Japanese writer who most often writes in English. 

Yu Xinqiao The Last Lyric

In his poem, “Poetry Cannot Fix You” Yu Xinqiao asserts that poetry can fix many things, just not the self or a loved one (“you”). But in an address before the Dalai Lama that appears at the end of this book, ably translated by scholar and poet, Yunte Huang, he argues for poetry’s moral power: “In contemporary China, I must emphasize another aspect of poetry, that is, we must rebuild a hometown of justice and a homeland of conscience grounded in poetry. Poetry must shoulder moral obligations, must use its beauty and power like that of a revengeful goddess and intervene into the public arena that is becoming more and more ruthless and barbaric.” Born in 1968, Yu was imprisoned for eight years in China after calling in 1993 for a “Chinese Renaissance Movement.” His poems seem deliberately understated, full of unexpected reversals: “The dead are mourning the living”; and, because poetry can’t fix you, “That’s why I love poetry all my life.” The Last Lyric presents Yu’s work in Chinese and in English. Readers of English can now discover why Yu’s work is so popular (and so distrusted by the regime) in China.

Zero Distance | New Poetry from China

This book consists of 81 poems by 29 poets from China. 23 of them were born after 1970, 15 were born in or after 1980, with the youngest one born in 2006. Editor and translator Liang Yujing, who lives in Wellington, New Zealand, notes that most of the poets have done their writing in the 21st century, and published on-line rather than in the official magazines. They are too young to feel the ravages of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Anyone curious about poetry in China (especially provincial China) should read this book. 

Pei Pei the Monkey King

Pei Pei the Monkey King, Wawa’s first book, is a playful book about painful subjects in contemporary Hong Kong, namely the Umbrella Revolution of 2014, the Fishball Revolution of 2016 and an on-going epidemic of suicides among young people. The author, who has recently moved to Honolulu, knows internal and external exile. The translator, Henry Wei Leung, has written a clear and perceptive introduction to the language and politics of Hong Kong. He also addresses the difficulties in translating Chinese poetry into English, noting that even people who speak “Chinese” can often not understand each other. The book ends with an interview between poet and translator that elucidates the book’s private concerns. This is a must-read for anyone interested in contemporary Chinese poetry, Hong Kong, or writing in the Pacific more generally. The book includes the original Chinese, as well as the translations.

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