Xi Chuan 西川 (penname of Liu Jun 刘军) was born in Jiangsu in 1963 but grew up in Beijing, where he still lives. One of contemporary China’s most celebrated poets, having won the Lu Xun Prize for Literature (2001) and the Zhuang Zhongwen Prize (2003), he is also one of its most hyphenated littérateurs—teacher-essayist-translator-editor-poet—and has been described by American writer Eliot Weinberger as a “polymath, equally at home discussing the latest American poetry or Shang Dynasty numismatics.” A graduate of the English dept. of Beijing University, where his thesis was on Ezra Pound’s Chinese translations, he is currently employed at the Central Academy for Fine Arts in Beijing, where he was hired as an English instructor, then taught Western literature in Chinese translation, and now teaches pre-modern Chinese literature. He has taught at New York University (2007) and University of Victoria (2009), and recently published his translations of Gary Snyder into Chinese.
Bio from Notes on the Mosquito
We’re delighted to feature Xi Chuan – one of the most influential poets in China – as our author of the month this October.
Xi Chuan and his translator Lucas Klein have kindly given us permission to feature three poems – ‘Eight Fragments’ 八段; ‘Abstruse Thoughts at the Panjiayuan Antiques Market’ 潘家园旧货市场玄思录, (first published in English in Pathlight, 2015) and ‘Travels in Xichuan Province’ 西川省纪行 – which you can read in Chinese and in English translation here.
We’re also very pleased that Xi Chuan will be joining us in Leeds on October 12, for a reading and discussion on Chinese poetry in translation. Tickets are free but please register on our Eventbrite page, where you can also find more information about the event.
On October 13 he will be at the Manchester Literature Festival, where he will be reading with Mary Jean Chan and Jennifer Tsai at an event from 1-2pm, then taking part in an afternoon of writing workshops, networking, and dinner, at an event organised by Bi’an – the UK Chinese Writers’ Network – called ‘Both Sides Now: Writing from East and West‘. We’d like to thank Bi’an, the Manchester Literature Festival, and the University of Manchester Confucius Institute for their support in bringing Xi Chuan to the North of England.
There’s lots of information about Xi Chuan (and other poets), as well as links to translations of his poems, on translator Lucas Klein’s wonderful blog, Notes on the Mosquito.
More poems are available on the Poetry International site.
And there’s an interesting interview with both poet and translator here.