In these melancholy and self-mocking poems — populated with youths and elders, cellphones and televisions — Jiang Tao presents and dissects a discontent with the state of the world. He employs his profound wit and poetic mastery to explore the passage of time, rural-urban migration, change and impermanence, and the difficulties of human communication and connection. Jiang Tao’s verse is, as translator Josh Stenberg has written, “a quintessential expression of urban malaise in contemporary China.” This is his first book to appear in English and is presented bilingually on facing pages.
Jiang Tao is a Beijing-based poet, literary critic, translator, and historian, known as much for his wry, cerebral verse as his ground-breaking studies of Republican (1911-49) literature. An Associate Professor at Peking University, he has held literary residencies in Japan, Taiwan, and the United States. He was born in Tianjin in 1970, and studied first at Tsinghua University, only to abandon biomedical engineering for a PhD in Chinese literature at Peking University, where he also began teaching in 2002. He wrote poetry as a student, and was editor of the folk poetry journals Offset and Poetry Communications. His first collection Bird Sutras was published in 2005, and he has since published Four Poems and Mourning for Sometimes. He won the Liu Li’an Prize for Poetry in 1997.
Translator Josh Stenberg is a Senior Lecturer in Chinese Studies at the University of Sydney. Currently the holder of a Discovery Early Career Research Award from the Australian Research Council, he is the author of Minority Stages: Sino-Indonesian Performance and Public Display (2019) and an upcoming book on Hokkien theatre, as well as the editor of Irina's Hat: New Short Stories from China (2013) and Kunqu Masters on Chinese Theatrical Performance (2022). His translations include two volumes of short fiction by Nanjing author Su Tong, short fiction by PRC, Taiwanese, and Southeast Asian Chinese authors, and numerous works of spoken and traditional Chinese theatre, while his fiction and poetry have been published in The Antigonish Review, The New Quarterly, CV2, The Dalhousie Review and numerous other literary journals. He has been a fellow of Fulbright Taiwan, the Center for Chinese Studies (National Central Library), the International institute for Asian Studies (Leiden), and the Vermont Studio Centre/Luce Foundation, where he began translating the poems in this book.
For a Splendid Sunny Apocalypse
For a Splendid Sunny Apocalypse
Translated from Chinese by Josh Stenberg
112 pages | Bilingual Chinese/English
Paperback | ISBN 978-1-938890-22-2 (trade paper)
"Jiang Tao's poetry is laid back, ironic, and human above all. ... This book is a beautiful new chapter in the story of Chinese poetry in English." —Maghiel van Crevel
"Considered an 'Intellectual' poet, Jiang Tao in fact integrates the emotional and the cerebral, underlined by something resonant with the surreality of China — and the world — today. ... In Josh Stenberg's expert translations, the avalanches that foretell the splendid, sunny apocalypse can be heard perfectly clearly."
— Lucas Klein