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'Sovereign Rays of Light Translate': Taiwan in Poetry, Poetry in Taiwan

  • pin Trinity Centre for Literary and Cultural Translation 36 Fenian Street, Dublin D02 CH22 Ireland (map)

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The story of Taiwan is at once utterly familiar and entirely unique. An island surrounded by larger neighbours, historically colonised by eastern and western empires alike, Taiwan is currently undergoing the longest period of self-determination in its history. Unlike most 'new' countries, Taiwan is not formally recognized in most international communities, including the UN. Nevertheless, this small island is a multicultural, democratic outpost: the first country in the entire region on the way to legalising gay marriage, it is now at the forefront of civil rights in Asia.

Taiwan's journey is reflected in, and shaped by the remarkable literary output of its citizens. Many of the finest poets currently writing in Chinese are from Taiwan. This talk, a combination of literary history and poetry reading, aims to introduce Western readers to four such poets: Yang Mu, Chen Li, Hsia Yu, and Ching Hsiang Hai. We will hear the work of these poets in their original language, and in translation. By contextualising this work within their broad ideological spectra—modernism, postmodernism, feminism and the LGBT movement—we will chart a course through the unique, familiar history of Taiwan.

In collaboration with the Cultural Division, Taipei Representative Office in the UK With thanks to the Ministry of Culture, Taiwan

Supported by The Ministry of Culture (Taiwan), and the Cultural Division, Taipei Representative Office in the UK

Speakers’ Bios:

Wen-chi Li is pursuing a PhD in Sinology at the University of Zurich, having completed a MA in Comparative and General Literature and MSc Research in Chinese at the University of Edinburgh. Li's publications include critical essays in journals in Hong Kong and Taiwan as well as three books of poetry in Chinese.

Colin Bramwell is a Scottish poet, translator, theatre-maker and musician from the Black Isle, near Inverness. He studied English Literature at the universities of Edinburgh, McGill and Oxford. Working with Wen-chi Li, he co-translates Taiwan's most important living poet, Yang Mu. He contributed translations to a recently published Collected Works of Yang Mu: his most recent translations won first prize in the John Dryden Translation Competition. Colin also translates poetry from various European languages into Scots. He recently performed his fourth spoken-word theatre show, Umbrella Man, at the Prague and Edinburgh fringe festivals. Umbrella Man will be touring theatres nationally and internationally in 2019.