August 2019: Yu Yoyo 余幼幼

Born in 1990, Sichuanese poet Yu Yoyo had already begun to earn critical attention before she turned sixteen, publishing dozens of poems in PoetryPoetry Monthly and other prestigious publications in China. She studied business management and accounting in university, but never gave up on her long-standing passion for poetry and finally embraced her life’s calling upon graduation. She is now seen as a representative voice among the post-90’s generation, especially known for her mature voice and subtle treatment of modern femininity. She has two collections published in China Seven Years (2012) and Me as Bait (2018). In 2019 the PTC published her first English collection My Tenantless Body with translations by Dave Haysom and the award-winning UK poet A K Blakemore. She currently lives in Chengdu.

Bio from the Poetry Translation Centre

We’re delighted to feature Yu Yoyo as our author of the month this August, especially as we were lucky enough to hear her read and discuss her poems at an event last month on new Chinese fiction and poetry in translation, also attended by one of her translators, Dave Haysom. This was part of a tour, organised by the Poetry Translation Centre, to mark the publication of her collection.

Yu Yoyo’s poetry has a lithe, darting brilliance, her language does not waste time bedding itself in, or explaining itself to you; but simply jumps from arresting idea to arresting idea with electrifying intent. It is in this caustic, sharp movement that Yu forms her poetics, one which is crucially and importantly a poetics of youth. Yu, thoroughly a ‘millennial’, has created a poetic language which has seemingly never not known the internet – its caustic, flat wit; its complete lack of punctuation; its blunt delivery and its incredible linguistic speed. – The Poetry Translation Centre

This month, we feature five of her poems, all translated by Emily Goedde, and first published in the Winter 2015 issue of Pathlight magazine.  You can read the poems here, alongside the original Chinese.

Emily has a PhD in comparative literature from the University of Michigan and an MFA in literary translation from the University of Iowa. She has been translating and editing since 2007. Her translations have appeared in The Iowa Review and the anthology Jade Mirror: Women Poets of China, among other publications. (Bio from Paper Republic).

If you want to look more closely at Yoyo’s poems and their use of language, there’s a very interesting article by Xiao Yue Shan on the Asymptote blog, On Yu Yoyo, Language, and the Unsayable.

And there are two podcasts from the Poetry Translation Centre where you can listen to Yoyo’s poems, in Chinese and in the English translation by Dave Haysom and A K Blakemore: Sleepwalking, and Dad.