from Polish by Mira Rosenthal
ISBN 0-9832970-3-7 (paper) $15
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Tomasz Różycki’s Colonies is one of the most remarkable sonnet sequences of our time: the work of a wandering, restless, and moral mind, here rendered with clarity and vividness by the translations of Mira Rosenthal.
— Susan Stewart
In Tomasz Różycki’s lyric profusion, I hear the sharp blasts of a mordant intellect, but not without the human notes of an infinite melancholy playing in the background. This is the soundtrack of a valiant mind, a layered imagination that nonchalantly apprehends and formally measures the tarnished world in demotic language such that it enchantingly restores simplicity and bewilderment to our existence.
Tomasz Różycki walks to work every day through the city of Opole, in the Polish region of Silesia, where he has lived since his birth in 1970. The fact that he is walking is important: the rhythm of feet on concrete and cobblestone, the familiar view across the Odra River, the regular length of time it takes him to reach his destination. Poetry has a long friendship with walking, good for pacing the flow of thought and establishing a strong rhythm. We are familiar with the idea in the Anglophone tradition from the late eighteenth century, when the Romantic poets transformed walking into a cultural and aesthetic act of taking pleasure in a landscape. For William Wordsworth, almost daily excursions on foot as well as longer walking tours functioned as a way to compose and revise poems that sprung from his meditations on the countryside. But what is important in Różycki’s daily walking is not so much any pastoral awareness it brings about but the fact that such rambling often leads to more sustained interest in the history of a place. Wordsworth’s pedestrian experience of the Lake District moved him to write a guidebook that traced the history of the region; so, too, Różycki’s paced knowledge of his part of Silesia roots him in a historical curiosity. In Colonies, his sixth collection, this curiosity blooms into an outright aesthetic obsession.
—from the Translator’s Introduction
Tomasz Różycki is a poet, critic, and translator. Over the last ten years, he has garnered almost every prize Poland has to offer, as well as widespread critical and popular acclaim in translation in numerous languages. Różycki is the author of seven volumes of poetry, most recently Kolonie (Colonies) and Księga obrotów (The Book of Rotations). Over the course of his career, he has developed an extraordinarily distinctive, personal poetic voice that combines highly concrete imagery with evocative references to the historical legacy of his family and his time. He has lived his whole life in Opole, a previously German city that was repopulated by Poles relocated from the Ukrainian area of eastern Poland taken over by the Soviets after World War II. He is considered to be an inheritor of the tradition of Czesław Miłosz and Adam Zagajewski, and his highly formal work deals with questions of both literary and ancestral tradition. His awards include the Krzysztof Kamiel Baczyński Prize (1997), the Czas Kultury Prize (1997), The Rainer Maria Rilke Award (1998), the Kościelski Foundation Prize (2004), and the Joseph Brodski Prize from Zeszyty Literackie (2006). He has been nominated twice for the Nike Prize (Poland’s top literary honor) and once for the Paszport Polityki (2004). He lives in his hometown of Opole with his wife and two children and teaches at Opole University. Zephyr Press has also published his The Forgotten Keys.
While on a Fulbright Fellowship to Poland, Mira Rosenthal discovered her passion for translating contemporary Polish poetry. Her translations and scholarship on Polish literature have received numerous awards, including fellowships from the PEN Translation Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the American Council of Learned Societies. Her own poetry has been published widely, and her collection The Local World, winner of the Wick Poetry Prize, came out from Kent State in 2011. She holds an M.F.A. from the University of Houston and a Ph.D. in comparative literature from Indiana University. She is a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University.
from Chinese by Fiona Sze-Lorrain
ISBN 978-0-9832970-6-2 (paper) $15
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6 x 8
Read from MĀNOA: A Pacific Journal of International Writing.
Subtle and compelling, Bai Hua is among the best in contemporary Chinese poetry.
—David Der-wei Wang
Drawing, thinking, speaking and ministering—Bai Hua explores language as a multi-dimensional medium in which image and voices mold words and synergies into portraits and encounters.…Unlike traditional pastoral poets and landscape artists, Bai Hua does not depict thriving or romantic representations of the landscape. The literal world within and without, here run the undercurrents of poetry. There is neither pastoral contentment nor dramatic exile in Bai Hua’s work.
—from the Introduction by Fiona Sze-Lorrain
Considered the central literary figure of the post-Obscure (or post-”Misty”) poetry movement during the 1980s, Bai Hua is one of the most influential poets in contemporary China. Born in 1956 in Chongqing, he studied English literature at Guangzhou Foreign Language Institute before graduating with a Master’s degree in Western Literary History from Sichuan University. His first collection of poems, Expression (1988), received immediate critical acclaim. A highly demanding writer, Bai Hua’s poetic output is considerably modest but selective: in the past thirty years he has written only about ninety poems. After a silence of more than a decade, he began writing poetry again in 2007. That same year, his work garnered the prestigious Rougang Poetry Award. A prolific writer of critical prose and hybrid texts, Bai Hua is also a recipient of the Anne Kao Poetry Prize. Currently living in Chengdu, Sichuan, he teaches at the Southwest Jiaotong University.
Fiona Sze-Lorrain's debut collection of poetry, Water the Moon, was published in 2010. In addition to her books of translation of Chinese poets from Zephyr Press, she has translated several contemporary French and American authors, and co-edited the Manoa anthology, Sky Lanterns (University of Hawai'i Press, 2012). An editor at Cerise Press and Vif éditions, she is also a zheng harpist and orchid healer. She lives in France.
PAUL KLEE’S BOAT
from Russian by Andrew Wachtel
ISBN 978-0-9832970-7-9 (paper) $15
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Anzhelina Polonskaya consciously guards her outsider status, choosing to live not in Moscow itself, but in Malakhovka, where she was born in 1969, some thirty miles from the center of the city, a peaceful enclave far from the daily squabbles of Moscow literary life. As often as she can, she escapes from the oppressive social and political atmosphere of Russia, and, taking advantage of a number of prestigious residencies, creates the bulk of her work while abroad, following a Russian tradition of using both internal and external exile (in this case self-imposed) to fuel creativity. Polonskaya’s newer work for the most part eschews narrative, and is far more visual in nature. It can almost be described as pictorial; surely it is no accident that Paul Klee’s Boat contains a number of poems that directly refer to individual works of art, although in most (but not all) cases these are not ekphrastic descriptions of the work, but rather evocations of the mood produced by seeing it.
Anzhelina Polonskaya began to write poems seriously at the age of eighteen. Between 1995 and 1997 she lived in Latin America, working as a professional ice dancer. Her first book of verses Svetoch Moi Nebesny (My Heavenly Torch) appeared in 1993. In 1998, the Moscow Writer’s Publishing House published her second book, entitled Verses. Since 1998, she has been a member of the Moscow Union of Writers. In 1999, her book The Sky in a Private’s Eye was published. In September 1999, this book was presented at the First International Festival of Poets in Moscow, and, in October 1999, at an international poetry festival/conference at Northwestern University (Chicago, USA). In 2002, her book Golos (A Voice) was published in Moscow, and in 2003, Polonskaya became a member of the Russian PEN-centre. In 2004, an English version of her book, entitled A Voice, appeared in the acclaimed “Writings from an Unbound Europe” series at Northwestern University Press.
Andrew Wachtel is the president of the American University of Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Previously he was dean of The Graduate School and director of the Roberta Buffett Center for International and Comparative Studies at Northwestern University. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and the author of numerous publications, he is also a translator from Russian, Bosnian/Croation/Serbian and Slovene. He translated Anzhelina Polonskaya’s previous collection, A Voice (Northwestern UP, 1995).
From the Chinese by John Balcom
ISBN 978-0981552118 (paper) $15
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6 x 8½
Stone Cell is a companion volume to the translation of Lo Fu’s book-length poem Driftwood published in 2006 by Zephyr. Covering fifty years, the present volume provides an overview of the poetry of one of China’s most important living poets, in all its scope and breadth, from his earliest lyrics to his mature verse. His book Driftwood, which appeared in 2001, is actually a 240-page poem. In a sense Lo Fu has come full circle from Death of a Stone Cell, the anti-epic of his youth, to Driftwood, the epic summation of the poet’s artistic journey, life experience, and philosophy. On the poem, Lo Fu says, “It sums up my experience of exile, my artistic explorations, and my metaphysics. I consider it a personal epic, the greatest achievement of my old age, and a landmark of my career.” Lo Fu has won all of the major literary awards in Taiwan including the China Times Literary Award, the Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Literary Award, the Wu San-Lien Literary Award, and the National Literary Award. His poetry has been translated into English, Swedish, French, German, Japanese, and Korean.
John Balcom holds a PhD in Chinese and Comparative Literature from Washington University in St Louis. An award winning translator of Chinese literature, philosophy, and children’s books, he teaches translation at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, where he ran the Chinese program for many years. His translations include Taiwan’s Indigenous Writers: An Anthology of Stories, Essays, and Poems, After Many Autumns: An Anthology of Chinese Buddhist Literature, There’s Nothing I Can Do When I Think of You Late at Night by Cao Naiqian, and Trees without Wind by Li Rui. He is a past president of the American Literary Translators Association.
CHINA’S LOST DECADE
CULTURAL POLITICS AND POETICS 1978–1990 IN PLACE OF HISTORY
Gregory B. Lee
ISBN 978-0-983297-00-0 (paper) $18
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The period in China’s recent history between the death of Mao and the débâcle of 1989 can be seen as a long decade, but also historically as a “lost” decade. It is “lost” in the sense that the political engagement of intellectuals and makers of culture has been occulted by official history-telling; it is also “lost” in that its memory has been abandoned even by many who lived through it; “lost” also in the embarrassed silence of those who prefer to focus on the subsequent economic miracle of the 1990s that gave rise to today’s more prosperous China; and “lost” as a time of opportunity for cultural and political change that ultimately did not happen. The relevance of the “lost” decade to China’s living, if untold, history was once more made clear by the conferral of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize on Liu Xiaobo, a political activist since 1989, and by the awarding of the 2010 Neustadt literature prize to the poet Duoduo whose poetry and personal trajectory loom large in Lee’s book.
Gregory B. Lee was educated in London and Peking. He has taught at the universities of Cambridge, London, Chicago, Hong Kong, and Lyon, and was most recently Chair Professor of Chinese and Transcultural Studies at City University of Hong Kong. He is the author of Dai Wangshu: The Life and Poetry of a Chinese Modernist; Troubadours, Trumpeters, Troubled Makers: Lyricism, Nationalism and Hybridity in China and Its Others; and Chinas Unlimited: Making the Imaginaries of China and Chineseness.
by Marianne Langner Zeitlin
ISBN 978-0-9832970-5-5 $17
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For anyone interested in classical music, Motherless Child is a novel to be savored. [full review]
—Roberta Silman, Artsfuse.org
One gets wrapped up in the ruse Elizabeth has woven, and becomes as determined as she is to learn the truth.
—Joy Parks, Quill & Quire (Canada)
Set in the world of classical music, Marianne Langner Zeitlin’s third novel is a suspenseful page-turner that takes us on a young woman's quest to understand her family’s difficult past. Under an assumed name, Elizabeth Guaranga takes a job with the famed music manager Alfred Rossiter, who was once her late mother's lover. Rossiter’s name was synonymous with evil in Elizabeth’s home: he had lured her mother away from the family, and then used his power to squelch her father’s career as a concert pianist. After Elizabeth meets the writer George Wentworth, who is writing a biography of Rossiter, she begins to learn that the truth she is seeking is far different from what she had been led to believe.
Zeitlin has spent her entire adult life in the world of classical music—as the wife of acclaimed violinist Zvi Zeitlin, as one of the first women to manage an orchestra herself, and, in her young adulthood, as an employee at one of the largest music management firms in the United States. She brings her wealth of knowledge about the music world to this riveting tale of loss, love, power, and the immutability of one’s past.
Motherless Child contains a Book Group Discussion Guide.
Marianne Langner Zeitlin is the author of numerous short stories, essays, articles and dramatic works. She has published two other novels, Mira’s Passage (Dell) and Next of Kin (Zephyr Press), which won a City of Toronto Book Award, and her stories have been anthologized in two collections. Recent stories have been published in FictionFix.net, Passager, Aethlon, Scribblers on the Roof, and Jewishfiction.net. She lives in Rochester, New York.