This book is not an attempt to grasp the “essence” of Chinese poetry, nor is it an endeavor to produce an over-polished version of English that claims aesthetic superiority over other works in the same field. It grapples rather with the nature of translation and poetry, and explores poetic issues from the perspective of translation and translation issues from the perspective of poetry. Looking from such a vantage point, translation is no longer able to hide itself in our blind spot; instead, the often-invisible face of translation is being brought to the foreground of poetic texture and the traces of translation’s needle work are being exposed to the reader’s view. With its agenda hidden, translation is too often a handyman for the metaphysical, mystical, or universal notion of poetry. When emerging from obscurity, translation becomes an ally with poetic material and enacts the wordness of the words. And this book strives to strengthen the alliance between translation and poetry through various textual and conceptual means that I will discuss now.
For the catalog of ICA show of Kathy Butterly, Félix González-Torres, Roy McMakin and Sue Williams, Siegler has included poems by John Ashbery, Robert Kelly, John Yau, Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge, Cole Swensen, Charles Bernstein, Matvei Yankelevich, Anna Moschovakis, Lee Ann Brown, Lisa Jarnot, Tan Lin, Craig Dworkin, Frances Richard, Dan Machlin, Marcella Durand, Alan Gilbert, Damon Krukowski, Mónica De la Torre, Jen Bervin, Eileen Myles, and Miles Champion.