October 16, 2021

KITAAB

Connecting Asian writers with global readers

Fiona Sze-Lorrain: I try to write as a witness to something concrete

1 min read

Singaporean poet Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé interviews Fiona Sze-Lorrain on Bai Hua’s Wind Says

There’s something alluring about reading poetry in translation. Some words, and the particular meanings they are bound to, simply don’t exist in other languages. With translation comes the complex act of rendering such meaning, the translator’s work a kind of precious vocation that helps bridge stories and cultures and people. That a rare poet like Bai Hua has an accomplished poet like Fiona Sze-Lorrain to bring his work to an English-speaking audience is wonderful. The result is a beautiful collection that helps the reader understand a poet of such quiet restraint and largeness of heart. Of his new work, Sze-Lorrain writes: “With its mosaic of references and quotes in synchronic and diachronic modes, the materiality of the language fabric in Bai Hua’s recent work can only thicken. More than bearing mere emotional weight, it is as much a palimpsest as a collage of competing and superimposed textual intensities.”

It is with great anticipation that a reader approaches any new work by Bai Hua. Bai Hua, after all, penned a modest ninety poems over the last thirty years. Born in 1956, he is well-known as one of the more prominent of post-Misty poets in 1980s China, eventually receiving the Rougang Poetry Award and Anne Kao Poetry Prize.

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