|Translated by William
McNaughton, former chair at Hong Kong University,
and poet/translator David Young at Oberlin College. These poems
showcase Qin Guan, a relatively unknown 11th century master of Chinese
verse whose company could include the likes of the esteemed Li Po (Li
Bai) and Du Fu. Praised by the illustrious Wang An-shih, Guan was a
disciple of Su Shih (Su Dongpo) one of China’s masters of multiple
literary forms, and who strove to loosen the poetic conventions of the
As an acolyte would, Qin Guan blew out the conventional even more by writing about his encounters with courtesans, a subject considered to be a major indiscretion by Chinese society in Keifing. He wrote in a style called t’zu, a lyrical form that McNaughton likens to “cabaret songs” or “words to music” often chosen by the courtesans to sing during their professional entertainments - songs brought from their conquered homelands and appropriated with new lyrics/verse by our poet Qin.
Guan lived a tumultuous life during the Northern Sung Dynasty (A.D. 960-1127) Political clashes led to a string of banishments and exiles, his poetry was shunned for its sensuality, and he suffered from the vicissitudes of love—all of which moved him to write these brief, incandescent poems of departure and “long goodbyes.”
A streak of his poetic melancholy and gift for imagery appears in the poem Eight Six
the pleasures of love run off
with the flowing streams…
the sound of the white silk string breaks off
and the stick of incense — kingfisher green —
This is the first time these poems have been released in the English language with an introduction by McNaughton and an afterword by Young. The book is printed in three colors on 150gsm Hahnemühle Biblio and the type is composed in Dante. This edition is bound in a sage Asahi book cloth with cotton indigo colored Shizen paper with a hint of gold batik highlights with a velum spine title and is housed in a slipcase of warm grey cotton book cloth. Printed and bound at Deep Wood Press, edition of 80 - 10 deluxe and 5 reserved for hand binders. 34 pages, 10 1/2 x 7 3/4, numbered.
Layout and design by James Dissette and Chad Pastotnik - this is our last joint venture together under the imprint Chester River Press. Our new imprint henceforth is Mad Parrot Press ~ You are going to like it....
William McNaughton (1933-2008) studied with Ezra Pound 1953-1956 and established the Chinese language programs at Oberlin College, Wabash College, Antioch College Denison University and Bowling Green State University. He was the founding Program Director of the University of Hong Kong’s BA Translation and Interpretation program where he worked until his retirement in 1998. He has written ten books on Chinese language, Asian literature and Russian literature.
David Young has been Longman Professor of English at Oberlin College since 1986 and an editor of FIELD magazine since 1969. He is the author of several collections of poetry, including Field of Light and Shadow (Knopf, 2010); Black Lab (2006); At the White Window (2000); Night Thoughts and Henry Vaughan (1994), which won the Ohio State University Press/The Journal Award in Poetry; The Planet on the Desk: Selected and New Poems 1960-1990 (1991); Foraging (1986); Earthshine (1988); The Names of a Hare in English (1979); Work Lights: Thirty-Two Prose Poems(1977); and Boxcars (1972). His translations include Out on the Autumn River: Selected Poems by Du Mu (2006) and Clouds Float North: The Complete Poems of Yu Xuanji(1998), both with Jiann I. Lin; Selected Poems by Eugenio Montale(2004), with Charles Wright and Jonathan Galassi); The Poetry of Petrarch (2004); The Book of Fresh Beginnings: Selected Poems of Rainer Maria Rilke (1994), Miroslav Holub’s Vanishing Lung Syndrome and The Dimension of the Present Moment (both 1990),Five T’ang Poets (1990), Pablo Neruda‘s The Heights of Macchu Picchu (1987), and Rilke’s Duino Elegies (1980).
Moon As Bright As Water was edited by Richard Kent, Professor of East Asian Art History at Franklin Marshall College. He received his B.A. in English from Oberlin College and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Chinese art and archaeology from Princeton University.
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