Yang Zi (1963- ), an acclaimed contemporary Chinese poet, is the author of a dozen books including Border Fast Train (1994), Gray Eyes (2000), and Rouge (2007). After his university studies in Chinese literature, he lived in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region for nine years and co-founded the literary journal Big Bird. In 1990, he was appointed Vice Alderman of Tahaqi Village. Since 1993, he has lived in the southern coastal city Guangzhou and now works as the Associate Chief Editor of the Nanfang People Weekly. Also known as a poetry translator, he has introduced the works of Osip Mandelstam, Paul Celan, Fernando Pessoa, Gary Snyder, Charles Simic, and other Western poets to Chinese readers.
Ahmed ALajmi was born in Bahrain on April 13, 1958. He is a member of the Bahrain Writers Association (Usrat al-Udaba’ wa-l-Kuttab), which he headed from 1999-2001. He also served as the editor-in-chief of its journal Karaz (Cherry) from 2007 to 2009. He has published twelve books of poetry from 1987 to the present. His work also has been published in various cultural publications, and he has taken part in many poetry festivals in Bahrain and overseas.
ALajmi’s book I Can See the Music (2007) contains translations from the Arabic in English, Spanish, Farsi, and French. English translations of some of his poems appear in Pearl, Dreams of Shell, edited by Hameed Al Qaed (Howling Dog Press, 2007). His collection of poems As If It Is Love (2009) was published as a set of postcards in a folder, in both Arabic and English.
When German-born poet and playwright Nelly Leonie Sachs (1891-1970) was awarded the 1966 Nobel Prize for Literature, she observed that co-winner Shmuel Yosef Agnon represented Israel, whereas “I represent the tragedy of the Jewish people.” The wide arc of her life from the fashionale Tiergarten section of Berlin to exile in Sweden began when she was born on December 10, 1891, the daughter of a prosperous manufacturer.
Growing up in the fashionable Tiergarten section of Berlin, she studied dance and music with private tutors, and began to write poetry at age 17. Sachs became renowned in Germany for her expressionist lyrics, but her life darkened with the persecution of the Jews as Hitler rose to power. Her fascination with Christian mysticism, in a collection of legends from the Middle Ages, published in 1921, led to her finding comfort in the mystical elements in ancient Jewish writings found in Orthodox Hasidism.
When she learned, in 1940, that she was destined for a forced-labor camp, a German friend, at great risk, journeyed to Sweden to meet with Swedish poet and 1909 Nobel Laureate Selma Lagerlof, who had been a friendly correspondent of Sachs for many years. Jews were not permitted to leave Germany, but, from her death bed, Lagerlof persuaded Prince Eugene of the Swedish Royal House to intercede. He arranged a visa for Nelly Sachs and her mother. Selma Lagerlof died before their arrival. Settled in Stockholm at almost fifty years old, Sachs made a modest living by translating Swedish poetry into German. With the exception of her mother, every member of her family was killed in the concentration camps.
Her first collections of poetry, But Even the Sun Has No Home (1948) and Eclipse of the Stars (1951), dealt with the annihilation of six million Jews under the Third Reich. They did not receive as much attention as Eli: A Miracle Play of the Suffering Israel, which became a widely acclaimed radio play in Germany.
Before she became the first Jewish woman to win the Nobel Prize, on her 75th birthday, she received the 1965 Peace Prize of German Publishers. In accepting the award from the land she had fled, she said (in the spirit of concord and forgiveness that are among the themes in her poems), “In spite of all the horrors of the past, I believe in you…. Let us remember the victims and then let us walk together into the future to seek again a new beginning.”
Nelly Sachs died in Stockholm on May 12, 1970.
(James McColley Eilers)
Anne Plantagenet is the author of two previous novels and biographies of Marilyn Monroe and Manolete. Her latest book was a collection of short stories, Pour des siècles et des siècles, published by Éditions Stock in 2008.
Patrick Besson published his first book at the age of 17. He has since published a total of 40 books, including Dara, winner of the Prix de l’Académie Française in 1985, and Les Braban, winner of the Prix Renaudot in 1995. He is also a journalist for leading French newspapers Le Figaro, L’Humanité, and VSD.
Anna Piwkowska (b. Feb. 3, 1963) is a Polish poet, novelist, and essayist. The Dye Girl (Farbiarka) is her eighth published book of poetry, which revolves around meditations on love, death, mothers, and mythologies. Piwkowska graduated from the University of Warsaw with a degree in Polish language and literature, and her poems have been published in numerous leading Polish literary journals. She has received numerous prizes for her poetry and prose, most recently having The Dye Girl acknowledged with the 2009 Warsaw Literary Prize. She has also published a novel, and a nonfiction book about the Russian poet Anna Akhmatova. Though much of her poetry has been translated into German and Russian, most of it remains untranslated in English. Piwkowska currently lives in Warsaw.
The three featured poems borrow from the nineteenth century without obediently remaining within it. The author specifies that he is, as stated in “Borges spankspank,” actually descended from the Cuban bandit Manuel García, who is also depicted in artwork displayed at Havana’s fine arts museum. “Days of 1834” similarly draws on a compelling historical figure, this time a poet, flirting with the contours of his storyline. Under the surface of that poem, Flores speaks to another contemporary Cuban writer who is deeply interested in ruins—a “ruinologist,” even—but who shall remain anonymous: Flores does not give permission to “out” the figures from contemporary island life who flit through this book. However, he tends to describe his poems as implicitly championing their existence in the face of a society that may at times discourage personal growth, change, or difference. “Germany, 1843” was supposed to be a poem about Nietzsche, but it uncooperatively turned into a poem about Hölderlin. Flores has decided that in the center it’s also reaching toward Cavafy, and perhaps, toward ancient Greeks. (Kristin Dykstra)
Born in 1947 in Poitiers, Michèle Lesbre was a schoolteacher for several years before deciding to take up writing. She published detective novels until 2001, when she published her first work of literary fiction, Nina, par hasard. Since then she has published Boléro (Actes Sud, 2003), Un certain Felloni (Actes Sud, 2004), La petite trotteuse (Sabine Wespieser Editeur, 2005), and Le canapé rouge (Sabine Wespieser Editeur, 2007), which was a finalist for the Goncourt Prize and translated into eight languages.
Born in Paris in 1979, Minh Tran Huy is a deputy editor of Le Magazine Littéraire and a literary critic. La double vie d’Anna Song is her third novel after La Princesse et le pêcheur (Actes Sud, 2007) and Le Lac né en une nuit (Actes Sud, 2008).
Natalka Sniadanko is one of the most vibrant voices in Eastern Europe today. Translated into German, Polish, Russian, and Spanish, Sniadanko is also a translator herself, with such credits as Czesław Miłosz, Günter Grass, and Franz Kafka under her belt. She has received several prestigiuos residencies and fellowships in both Poland and Germany, and her work is marked by her travels. Ever sharp, ever sensitive, Sniadanko possesses a wit and perspicacity that render each of her sentences sparkling and all of her interests contagious. Her first novel, The Passion Collection, funny and touching by turn, tells the story of a young Ukrainian woman falling in love with philology while also experiencing her first crushes and first love affairs. She has published a total of four books in Ukraine since that first, in 2001, and has appeared widely in literary journals and newspapers across Central Europe. At still under forty years old, Sniadanko is a writer to watch and to savor.
The Brooklyn Rail welcomes you to our web-exclusive section InTranslation, where we feature unpublished translations of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and dramatic writing. Published since April 2007, InTranslation is a venue for outstanding work in translation and a resource for translators, authors, editors, and publishers seeking to collaborate.
We seek exceptional unpublished English translations from all languages.
Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry: Manuscripts of no longer than 20 pages (double-spaced).
Plays: Manuscripts of no longer than 30 pages (in left-justified format).