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  • Selected Poems: Yu Jian

Selected Poems: Yu Jian

Translated by Simon Patton and Naikan Tao


English , 2019/01 Renditions Paperbacks

Tags: Translation / Literature

215 x 140 mm , 136pp ISBN : 978-962-7255-46-8

  • US$12.65


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Born in Yunnan province in 1954, Yu Jian has developed a unique poetic voice that has little to do with the cultural centres of Beijing and Shanghai. In 1971, during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966–1976), he came across a booklet of classical Chinese poetry hidden away in a remote village temple. This chance discovery ‘ripped the blindfold’ from his eyes and strengthened his desire to become a poet. Despite the fact that he was working as a riveter in a factory at the time, Yu managed to read widely in world literature thanks to the large volume of banned books in circulation underground. For many years he wrote in virtual isolation, but made an unexpected breakthrough in 1986 when his long, rough and tumble ‘stream of life’ poem ‘6 Shangyi Street’ appeared in China’s leading poetry journal. Since then, Yu has gone on to become one of China’s most unlikely contemporary poets, combining a down-to-earth approach with strong interests in wilderness, the loss of local and indigenous ways of life, and a Taoist-inspired mysticism of the ordinary. His numerous books of poetry include Sixty Poems(1989), Naming to a Crow (1993), Note of Anthology (2001), Anthology and Image(2003), and Only the Ocean is as Vast as a Screen (2006). To this day, he continues to live and write in Kunming. This is the first representative selection of his work to appear in English.

Simon Patton lives with his partner, cat and Sealyham the Terrier near Chinaman Creek in Central Victoria, Australia. His first translations of Yu Jian’s poetry was published by Renditions in 1996. In 2009, he won Second Prize in the John Dryden Translation Competition 2008/9 with the short story ‘The Goddess of Lhasa River’ by Ma Yuan. His version of Yu Jian’s long poem ‘Small Town’ appeared in Chinese Literature Today in 2013.

Naikan Tao is interested in poetry and poetics and translates Chinese poetry. He is the translator with Simon Patton of Starve the Poets: Selected Poems (Tarset: Bloodaxe Books Ltd, 2008), and with Tony Prince of Eight Contemporary Chinese Poets (Sydney: Wild Poeny, 2006). In addition, he is the author of ‘Subjectivity and Innovation in Contemporary Chinese Poetry, II’, Journal of the Oriental Society of Australia 44, (2012).

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