It is our immense pleasure to show here the poetry of Zinaida Zavadskaia, translated by her daughter Natasha Zavadskaia, and also the poetry of Natasha Zavadskaia herself. While the works of both are equally beautiful, you would probably notice their difference in style, state of mind and vision. We are very much enchanted by these exquisite verses.
Accompanying the poems, the photo is made by Natasha Zavadskaia as well, a sublime beauty, her birth place Carélie .
Ying Chen continues to translate the ancient folkloric Yue Fu Songs 乐府歌辞:
- In French, she is presenting an anti-war song “Battles” 战城南 (from the section « Songs and airs for drums and for flutes 鼓吹曲辞»).
- And in English, « So high is the Sorceler Mountain 巫山高 », about a migrant’s sorrow.
In the “opinions” page, we shared a Russian love song “An Evening outside of Moscow”, a song known by literally everyone in China, a bilingual performance in 2018 by the famous, aged 77 at the time, Yang Hong-Ji.
We recommended the books by Antoine Volodine, telling stories about post apocalyptical world. This is in our sense one of the most unusual voices in contemporary literature. His work is translated into English and studied in China.
This month we are glad to show poems by Ook Chung. Born in Japan from Korean parents, living in Canada since the age of two, he had very troublesome school experiences as an Asian young boy in a situation of being minority. Today he is considered as one of the most brilliant and singuliar writer in Canada and abroad.
Ying Chen has translated a Yue Fu Song 乐府歌, « Journey to the west陇西行» . The form of five words five syllabes 五言is confirmed here, it will be followed and practiced by the next generations of poets. Those who haven’t read our previous posts could find in « What is new » for March, some explanations of Yue Fu Songs.
People may find it strange that it took centuries for the verses to move from four syllabes to five syllabes, but this is how the Chinese written language, at least its poetical language, was initially formed : it works less as a flow of water, as the record or the transcript of speech, than as a painting where are combined in various way the existing words which are images themselves. The best future poems would achieve their extraordinary beauty not only because of the actual meaning of the words, but also through their combination, through the unspoken between the words, between the lines, between the sounds. After the ancient Chinese language was reformed at the dawn of the 20th century, consisting mainly in linking the writting more to the speech, the modern Chinese language still contains relatively few fixed vocabulary, it still works as a lego where the game of variation of symbols seems to be as free as infinite.
The original poems in Chinese can be found in the page “繁忙的日子“。
In the « Opinions » page, we would like to draw your attention to two books by Ook Chung : L’Expérience interdite and Trilogie coréenne.
We shared a link about South Korea people’s strong reaction to Japan’s decision of Fukushima nuclear water dumping.
Finally we wish you would enjoy a traditional Korean song performed in its original version by the famous singer Huo Zun 霍尊.
For the month of May which is now named as “Asian Heritage Month” in Canada, our thoughts are for the people and the culture of India that have profound and lasting influence on most part of the Eastern Asia. It is our honour to show here, the extracts in both French and Sanskrit from “The tree of the nights”, a collection of poems by Colette Poggi, specialist of Indian culture.
Ying Chen translated two ancient Yue Fu Songs (乐府歌辞)： into French, an extract from“Mo Shang Sang 陌上桑 (Mulberry road)”，a chanted story about a beautiful married farmer laday who refuses the advances of a wealthy man travelling in the region ; into English, “Hao Lu 蒿露 (The Dew on the grass) ”，a song for funerals. The choice of the pieces are made for their variety, and for their authentic folklorical nature, their belonging to the ancient oral tradition.
According to Professor Jiang Yun 蒋韵 who teaches in Taiwan, today there still exist, in some part of Northern China, local artists who would sing a story so long that it lasts for days.
« Mo Shang Sang » is among one of the earliest writings that follow the rule of five words and five syllabes for all verses. A form called « poetry of five words 五言诗» will be practiced by the contemporary and the future poets, with further limitation of the number of verses, usually till a maximum of eight. Chinese poetry since its beginning tends to be minimalist and formalist.
In the “Opinions” page, which is now placed right after the "Busy days" page, Jeanne Pham Tran, editor of The Equator Publishing House, presented “Bhagavad Gîtâ”, a book where Colette Poggi presented this ancient tale which is, in many ways, fundamentally important even today.
We included a radio interview where Colette Poggi provided in depth explanations about this epic poem, an important piece in the history of thinking.
Also in the page of “Opinions”, Isola Poetry shared an impressive lecture by Dr Vandana Shiva, “The food of the future”, made in 2014 at Arizona University
This month we are delighted to share a poem by Dai Yu 戴宇 describing the end of the winter season.
Born in Shanghai, graduated from Fudan University in sciences, working and living in Japan since 1991, Dai Yu has published two much praised collections of poems: “The Snow beyond the world”《世界之外的雪》and “A Spring graved on the wall”《刻在墙上的春天》. We thank to Xu Qin who translated for us Dai Yu’s poems into English.
Ying Chen continues to translate Yue Fu (乐府) songs which are the origins of the Chinese ancient poetry and are still influencing the writing of today’s popular Chinese songs.
In the « Opinions » page, Isola Poetry presented two « free verses» poems by Dai Yu. His work is a show case of contemporary Chinese poets who write modern style verses, while deeply formed with classic poetry and able to write in ancient form, such as the Qing Ping (清平乐) 。
Also in the « Opinions » page, in the occasion of April’s « Earth Day », Ying Chen, author of the book « Radiance » published in French in 2021, would like to draw attention to an article by « The Diplomat» regarding the very troublesome and unsolved Fukushima disaster. Japan declaired this month its intention to dump un estimated 1.4 milion tones of much questioned nuclear waste water into the Pacific ocean.
We are very moved to receive from Carl Strömbäck his poems with intense light and silence. He started to write poetry after a second stroke that partially paralised him. He found back his strength through writing and has been animating a poetry club. We are thankful to Françoise Sule for the translation.
Ying Chen started to translate a selection of songs belonging to Yue Fu (乐府诗)。Those songs were in fashion during the epoches of Qin, of Han and of Wei Jing North and South (221BCE-581ACE). A ministry of the culture (乐府) was first established during the Qin Dynasty, expanded by future emperors, with the tasks to collect the popular and folkloric songs from different regions, to put them in order, to add on the musical notes, to use them at praying ceremonies, and to organize chanting and dancing shows. While the musical books are lost, lots of written songs have remained, thanks to their publication during the Han Epoch, around the year 200.
Song North epoch （around year 1000) republished Yue Fu songs and poems (100 volumes, 5400 songs and poems divided under 12 musical forms), reflecting the aspiration of that time to « return to the sources ».
It will take an entire year to translate little by little the anomynous writings of Yue Fu, which largely influenced the poets for generations to come.
Some tend to gather the anomynous songs and the poems written by well-known poets according to the same musical airs under one same catagorie as Yue Fu Poetry. Yet, Ying Chen chooses to make a distinction between songs 歌 and poems 诗, although the two are closely related and today a combined word 诗歌 is used to designate poetry. For example, one writes 诗, but one performs a 诗歌 reading.
The Yue Fu songs being still quite narrative and closer to the spoken language, they can be translated in a straight forward way. But the poems written according to Yue Fu musical airs would be composed with a different spirit. It was more a matter of the forms than of the meanings. They were often presented as a stylistic work, or as a method for meditation, or as an internalized architecture similar to Penzai 盆栽 （planting in a plate), just like most futur Chinese classical poems that often deconstruct the syntax. Considerations about the language structure are therefore more than necessary, while translating. The translator will come back with details to this very crucial topic after she will finish translating the songs.
In the « Opinions » page, Françoise Sule presents, in French, a quite surprising book by Elin Anna Labba : « Herrarna satte oss hit. Om tvangsförflyttningarna i Sverige» (« Those men who moved us here – the forced displacement in Sweden »).
Ying Chen would recommand the most recent interview made by Etienne Klein about the soul of the iceberg.
Happy new lunar year ! Hopefully we left a troublesome year and entered into a normal year for everybody.
To celebrate the Spring Holidays, we are happy to share the poems of several Chinese participants : talented Ange Guo, student, Xu Qin, bilingual poet and writer whom we already know, Wu Wei, art journalist, Peng Liu the painter whom we also know, Zhi Qiang Guo, artist and translator, and Lee Chen, student.
Ying Chen continues to translate Qu Yuan (340-278BCE) : extracts from « Tian Wen天问 »（ « Questions to the Sky the Highest » 172 verses) and from « Li Sao 离骚 » (« Melancoly of the Farewell » 374 verses).
Qu Yuan was an enormous figure in ancient time, for his geopolitical thinking, for his pro-reform posture, for his septicism, and above all, for his achievement in creating a whole new poetical form in his time. He was one of the rares who enriched Chinese poetry with colorful elements of shamanic traditions and rituals.
In the Opinions page, Isola Poetry shared an inspiring speech by Alan Alda on the quantum world.
Xu Qun made a presentation about Chinese traditional Calendar still in use today in various ways, for agriculture, gardening, weather prediction, body care, etc. Most traditional holidays are celebrated according to this calendar.
We are begining the year, here, with a sequence of very impressive poems: that grace facing the extermination of the body ; that after-life in the form of words and images. The pomes are composed in both Michif (a Metis dialect) and English. The author, Chris Harris, was raised by his Metis grandmother, while his mother had to work in the mills. Chris Harris’s artistic world is quite uncommon to our view. The accompanying image is section from his painting entitled as « Metis Poem ». His numerous past shows include NeoPersona Gallery (New York) and Grand Forks Art Gallery (Grand Forks).
Ying Chen is presenting extracts from two poems of Chu style (楚辞), by Qu Yuan (屈原340-278BCA)。Minister and diplomate of the Kingdom of Chu (楚国927-223BCA), at a time where his kingdom was challenged by the northern kingdom of Qin (秦国)，Qu Yuan’s advises were repeatedly rejected by the corrupted court and he was forced to leave. Two years after Qin’s army conquered Chu’s capital city, the poet terminated his own life in the river of Xiang (湘江)。
In the « Opinions » page, we shared the website of our much appreciated artist Chris Harris.
In the same page, as a memorial to Fu Cong (1934-2020) who, on December 28, 2020, passed away of Covid19 in London, great pianist and considered as one of Chopin’s best interpretrers, son of the famous Fu Lei who translated many French authors, Isola Poetry shared an interview with Fu Cong made by Polish Music Institute in September 2015. The pianist said he was « still trying hard, digging into the truth », because he felt he was still far from it.
In her page in Chinese, Ying Chen shared Scarlatti’s Sonate 108, performed by Fu Cong, in 1968, two years after the suicide of his both dignified parents in 1966. Plus an extremely interesting interview with him conducted by Anthony Wang (the recording quality isn’t very good), where Fu Cong commented on the contemporary ever more superficial world.
We would like to share with you two extracts from Yves Bergeret's “Poème Lion-Galet”, accompanied by an image of his art piece inspired by the drawings of Alguima Guindo (in Koyo). A generous voice that wishes the Other to be heard.
Ying Chen is preparing to translate extracts of Chu Ci (楚辞)，a form of poetry practiced south of Chang Jiang (长江)，and reached its best during the period of Zhan Guo (战国 475BCE--221BCE)。The representing figure was Qu Yuan (屈原 340BCE--278BCE). Considered as the father of Chinese poetry, he had lived a tragic life.
At first, two popular songs of Chu are presented this month.
Influenced by folk songs and shamanic chanting, Chu Ci follows no stylistic rules, thus occupies a distinct place.
With its narrative trend, it also announced a new literary form « Fu » (赋), the rhymed prose, that would be practiced by future generations.
In her page in Chinese, Ying Chen shared an interview made by RFI in 2014 with Zhao Ting Yang 赵汀阳, who compared the Western and Chinese philosophy.
In the « Opinions » page, Rosa Hong left a message regarding Marguerite Yourcenar.
We shared a link of « Carnet de langue-espace », which brings us to a dreamy, virgin and animist world. There, you will find out more about Yves Bergeret’s remarkable « african notebook ».
Finally, we want to thank again Joseph Dillman, Charlie Zhou, Peng Liu, Jonathan Merlo, René de Ceccatty, Xu Qin and Yves Bergeret for their precious participation, and the ones who have been kindly supporting us.
We would like to share with you a poem by René de Ceccatty, written in four languages! Author of “Accompanying”, translator of Dôgen and of Dante, Biographer of Pasolini, René de Ceccatty has generously transformed his haiku poem into Qing Ping, a more Chinese rythme.
Inspired by René’s approach, we will add Pinyin 拼音(notes of pronounciation) to verses in Chinese. We also learned from Muriel Dutrie the syllabe counting method, useful in Chinese poetry translating.
Xu Qin, who last month wrote about the Double Ninth Day, comes back this month with a poem about the automne, a much apreciated season in Chinese poetry tradition.
In the page of “Opinions”, you will find comments by Muriel Dutrie, who translated Liu Yong 柳永，and by René de Ceccatty, concerning the troublesome translation of the ancient East-Asian poetry in to the polysyllable French.
In the same page, we also shared the link of an interview made by France Culture with Jean Vaillant, author of “The Golden Tree”, regarding the current state of Canadian forest, and much more.
Ying Chen presented the last two extracts from "The Book of Poetry 诗经."
This month we have the privilege to be able to share a very strong poem written in both Italian and French, by Jonathan Merlo, born in the country of Basque, now living in Italy and teaching French to university students. The photo that accompanies the poem was made at Val di Merse, in his region Toscane.
On the occasion of the Double Ninth Day, from Shanghai, we received a poem by Xu Qin, who studied English literature in late 90s and who writes in both Chinese and English. We are very much moved.The Double Ninth Day is a holiday traditionally dedicated to celestial NATURE and to ancestors,
This holiday has now become Parents Day and Seniors Day as well. On that day, considered as the "strongest day" (double Yang) of the year, it is important to climb mountains and drink tea or wine made with chrysanthemums, in order to purify mind and body, and to be ready to face the darker days that will follow.
We have received comments from Hélène Armit, Gabrielle Parker, Rosa Hong and Yao Jie, to which Ying Chen reacted in her "busy days" pages. The feedback from Peng Liu and Dany Filion is also taken into the consideration regarding the web presentation. Here again we deeply thank our friends supporters.
Finally, a word about the shorterned Qing Ping form:
While there are similarities between "our form" and haiku, we have several reasons to choose the former; which requires a lengthy book to explain. Here we will limit ourselves to translate and to present a few sample of ancient Chinese poetry before the year 1200 approximatively.