New Cathay: Contemporary Chinese Poetry Edited by Ming Di
Photo by Xu Xiaohe
Co-published with The Harriet Monroe Poetry Institute
The most up-to-date anthology of contemporary Chinese poetry, translated by American poets and edited by the executive editor of the bilingual literary journal Poetry East West
. Showcasing the achievement of Chinese poetry in the last twenty years, a time of tremendous literary ferment, this collection focuses on a diversity of exciting poets from the mainland, highlighting Duo Duo (laureate of the 2010 Neustadt International Prize for Literature) and Liao Yiwu (recipient of 2012 Peace Prize of the German Book Trade organization) along with not yet well-known but brilliant poets such as Zang Di and Xiao Kaiyu and younger poets Jiang Tao and Lü Yue. The anthology includes interviews with the poets and a fascinating survey of their opinions on “Ten Favorite Chinese poets” and “Ten Best-Known Western poets in China.”
Featured poets: Duo Duo, Wang Xiaoni, Bai Hua, Zhang Shuguang, Sun Wenbo, Wang Jiaxin, Liao Yiwu, Song Lin, Xiao Kaiyu, Lü De’an, Feng Yan, Yang Xiaobin, Zang Di, Ya Shi, Mai Mang, Lan Lan, Jiang Tao, Jiang Hao, Lü Yue, Hu Xudong, Yi Lai, Jiang Li, Zheng Xiaoqiong, Qiu Qixuan, and Li Shumin.
With translations by Neil Aitken, Katie Farris, Ming Di, Christopher Lupke, Tony Barnstone, Afaa Weaver, Jonathan Stalling, Nick Admussen, Eleanor Goodman, Ao Wang, Dian Li, Kerry Shawn Keys, Jennifer Kronovet, Elizabeth Reitzell, and Cody Reese.
I have long awaited such a rich and vibrant anthology as New Cathay, a generous sampling of contemporary Chinese poetry (1990-2012) which has evolved from drastic social and political change and now thrives like a great tree grown out of the dawn of the modern era, through the Mao years and the tumultuous Cultural Revolution, and into the complex, variegated structures of China today. The poems represent a poetic culture exploring anew its own ancient literature as well as the modern and contemporary poetry of Europe and the Americas. An engaging preface by editor-translator Ming Di and interviews with the poets frame translations that render not only the gist and pith but also the spirit and emotional tone of the originals, which together affirm poet Qiu Qixuan’s insight: “Love will not end / It only starts, and starts again.”
— William O’Daly, poet, translator, and editor
This is not just another anthology of contemporary Chinese poetry. Ming Di and her outstanding team of poets, critics, and translators here introduce the Anglophone reader to the distinctive, complex, and highly sophisticated landscape of recent Chinese poetry. No longer the Misty (or post-Misty) oppositional poetry that depended perhaps too fully on Western forms and modes, the “New Poetry” of what Ming Di calls the “Silver Age” is characterized by a highly original syncretism— at once classically inspired and au courant, at once familiar with Baudelaire and Rimbaud and yet rooted in contemporary Chinese thought and culture. Ming Di’s superb Preface provides the necessary historical background for this New New Poetry, and her introductions are remarkable not only for the information they provide but for an unusual candor: the editor does not claim each of her twenty-five poets is equally successful. The interviews at the back of the book bear this out: the poets speak candidly about their relationships to earlier movements, Western influences, critical theory today, and the state of the art. No one interested in poetry can fail to be charmed and intrigued by the exciting, wide-ranging, and yet always uniquely “Chinese” poetry presented in these pages.
— Marjorie Perloff
“With its carefully-selected range of poets and choice of contents, New Cathay is an up-to-date and exciting take on Chinese contemporary poetry. …it stands on its own as a literary anthology of Chinese contemporary poets, and allows us to review the diversity of Chinese contemporary poetry in terms of poetic style and subject.”
— Jennifer Wong, The Asian Review of Books