Thursday Night at SAAM, Contemporary Chinese Poetry

A bilingual reading of contemporary Chinese poetry happens this Thursday, September 29, 2011 at the Seattle Asian Art Museum, in the Stimson Auditorium at 7:00p. Admission is free and poets Xi Chuan and Zhou Zan visit from China to take part in this exchange.

Xi Chuan and Paul Nelson in Beijing August 2011

I had the good fortune to meet Xi Chuan in Xining, Qinghai province and he gave me a copy of his Notes on the Mosquito: Selected Poems. In the work I found intelligence, irreverence and some interesting phrases that come at life from a different angle than the typical American might expect. An example:

The beast, it despises my hairstyle, despises my scent, despises my repentance and reserve. In a word, it despises that I doll up happiness in baubles and jewels. IT squeeze its way into my room, orders me to stand in the corner, and with no word of explanation collapses in my chair, shatters my mirror, shreds up my curtains and all that belongs to my spiritual defence. I beseech it: “Don’t take my teacup when I’m thirsty!” Right there it digs up a spring, which I suppose must be some kind of response.

This notion of a spiritual defense fascinates me and I’d hope to interview him while he is in town and ask him what goes in to his spiritual defense and what might he be defending himself from. Other than a traditional Christian view and their notion of the devil, which is not Xi Chuan’s tradition, what would make up an entity for which one must create a spiritual defense? Oh, I have a few ideas on this, but it’s his line,so he gets to answer.

Bio: Xi Chuan (1963), poet, leading representative of the so-called ‘intellectual poets’. Has published numerous collections of poems and has been active as a journal editor and a translator of Pound, Borges and Milosz. His work has been translated in numerous languages and has earned him awards in China and abroad.

About Splabman

Poet & interviewer Paul E Nelson founded SPLAB (Seattle Poetics LAB) & the Cascadia Poetry Festival. Since 1993, SPLAB has produced hundreds of poetry events & 600 hours of interview programming with legendary poets & whole systems activists including Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure, Joanne Kyger, Robin Blaser, Diane di Prima, Daphne Marlatt, Nate Mackey, George Bowering, Barry McKinnon, José Kozer, Brenda Hillman & many others. Paul’s books include American Prophets (interviews 1994-2012) (2018) American Sentences (2015) A Time Before Slaughter (2009) and Organic in Cascadia: A Sequence of Energies (2013). Co-Editor of Make It True: Poetry From Cascadia (2015), 56 Days of August: Poetry Postcards (2017) and Samthology: A Tribute to Sam Hamill (2019) Make it True meets Medusario (2019), he’s presented poetry/poetics in London, Brussels, Nanaimo, Qinghai & Beijing, China, has had work translated into Spanish, Chinese & Portuguese & writes an American Sentence every day. Awarded a residency at The Lake, from the Morris Graves Foundation in Loleta, CA, he’s published work in Golden Handcuffs Review, Zen Monster, Hambone, and elsewhere. Winner of the 2014 Robin Blaser Award from The Capilano Review, he is engaged in a 20 year bioregional cultural investigation of Cascadia and lives in Rainier Beach, in the Cascadia bioregion’s Cedar River watershed.
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