PEN's Poetry Slam

This is pretty cool:

Inspired by live translation slams that proved to be audience favorites at the Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival, and again at PEN World Voices, PEN’s online Translation Slam aims to showcase the art of translation by juxtaposing in a public forum two “competing” translations of a single work.

For the inaugural installment, we asked translators to test their linguistic mettle on 暮色, a poem by Chinese writer Xi Chuan.

As you can see by comparing the two examples, there’s more than one way to skin a poem. Here’s the opening stanza of both:

Lucas Klein version:


in the vast expanses of a nation
the twilight is just as vast
lamp after lamp lights up
and twilight spreads out like the autumn


Wang Ping & Johann Hauser-Ulrich version:


In a vast country
Dusk, too, is vast
Lamps light up one by one
Dusk spreads like autumn

Be sure to visit the site to log your own reactions about these two translations.

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