Table Magic: On Translating Yam Gong’s Poetry

Date: 17/11/2022

Time: 07:00-08:30PM

Location: On campus @OEM1018 and Online via Zoom

Speaker: Mr James Shea and Dr Dorothy Tse

Translation Seminar Series

Abstract:

Hong Kong poet Yam Gong blends philosophical inquiry and everyday concerns in Moving a Stone: Selected Poems of Yam Gong, as he observes local life, family, aging, labor, and politics. The self-taught poet has worked as a laborer since adolescence and produced many of his poems during his work breaks. Using shifting tonal registers, he refashions borrowed language, including English song lyrics, Cantonese slang, Chinese folk stories, news reports, and prayers. Born in 1949, Yam Gong (pen name of Lau Yee-ching) is widely respected in both experimental and traditionalist circles in Hong Kong’s literary community. The first book-length collection of Yam Gong’s poems in English, this volume draws primarily from And So Moving a Stone You Look at Festival Lights along the Street published in 2010. The co-translators will read and discuss selected poems, consider Yam Gong’s use of wordplay, and explore the challenges and pleasures of rendering his poems in English.

Born in 1949, Yam Gong is a celebrated Hong Kong poet whose honors include the Hong Kong Youth Literature Award, the Workers’ Literature Award, and the Hong Kong Biennial Award for Chinese Literature for his first book And So You Look at Festival Lights along the Street (1997). His other books include And So Moving a Stone You Look at Festival Lights along the Street (2010) and And So Moving a Stone (Hide-and-Seek-Peekaboo) You Look at Festival Lights along the Street (2022).

About the Speakers:

James Shea is the author of two poetry collections, The Lost Novel and Star in the Eye, both from Fence Books. Recipient of grants from the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program, Hong Kong Arts Development Council, and National Endowment for the Arts, he is the director of the Creative and Professional Writing Program at Hong Kong Baptist University.


Dorothy Tse is a Hong Kong fiction writer whose books include Owlish and So Black. Tse has received the Hong Kong Book Prize, Unitas New Fiction Writers’ Award (Taiwan), and the Hong Kong Award for Creative Writing in Chinese. She has been a resident at Art Omi, the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program, and the Vermont Studio Center.

Table Magic: On Translating Yam Gong’s Poetry
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