Kay Ryan and Zhou Yaping

 

Recently, I translated some of the American Poet Kay Ryan’s poems into Chinese to show them to Zhou Yaping, because I see similarities and comparable features between the short poems by Kay Ryan and Zhou Yaping. Both their poems tend to be concise, dense, witty, empowering and, in some sense, Imagist. They both tend to develop their poems from a central image to create a figurative world through which they manipulate their personal feeling and views of certain human conditions that they would not share with others in plain words. In the style, Zhou Yaping’s early poems tend to be very impersonal and it is difficult for the readers to see a specific person in his poems. Although in recent years Zhou more often uses “I”  in his poems, this ‘I'” is still often a character in the figurative world and he acts among objects which are an imaginary environment improbable for a real person. But imaginary scenes may carry broader appeal to readers for bringing out their unspeakable feelings and depicting the structure of their untouched life conditions. Zhou Yaping said “Poets are secret people compared to the others, but we make the language public, free and equal. The secret persons should not be the the persons who create secrets for the second time. ” (Quoted from Liu Tao’s interview with Zhou Yaping, Xinxiang, Chongqingchubanshe, 2014) His ideas and styles resonate with Kay Ryan’s who, in her early stage of writing, wanted to find a way to express herself without having her personal part be exposed. Nevertheless, the poems are the most intimate connection of the inner worlds between the poets and the readers, as Kay Ryan admits, as a person(, or maybe especially as a poem), one is fully exposed.

Here are the several poems by Kay Ryan I translated into Chinese.

 1.

井还是杯子

一开始

你怎么知道

你可以丢开什么

又该贴着心

保留什么

什么是那井

什么不过是个

杯子。有一些

人就

喝大了

.

The well or the cup

.

How can

you tell

at the start

what you

can give away

and what

you must hold

to your heart.

What is

the well

and what is

a cup. Some

people get

drunk up.

.

2.

捉迷藏

.

难的是

跳出来

而不是

等着被找到。

难的是

孤零零这么久

然后听见

有人来了

身边。这

就像某种形式的

皮肤组织生长

在空气中,

并不是它被撕开了,

是你 去撕它。

.

Hide and Seek

.

It’s hard not

to jump out

instead of

wait­ing to be

found. It’s

hard to be

alone so long

and then hear

some­one come

around. It’s

like some form

of skin’s developed

in the air

that, rather

than have torn,

you tear.

 

3.

最好

.

无论我们怎样被雕刻

被削减

我们会继续尽力

最好,就好像

这不重要

我们的一公顷减少到了

一平方英尺。好

像我们的花园只是一颗豆

我们也会庆幸,只要

它能旺盛,如

同一颗豆

就能滋养我们

 .

The Best of It

.

However carved up
or pared down we get,
we keep on making
the best of it as though
it doesn’t matter that
our acre’s down to
a square foot. As
though our garden
could be one bean
and we’d rejoice if
it flourishes, as
though one bean
could nourish us.

4.

回家来歇

.

鸡们

在打圈儿,在

遮蔽

白天。太阳

明亮,但

鸡们挡了

。是的,

天空是黑的

满是鸡,

密密麻麻。

它们转啊

它们又转啊

这些鸡

是你一次一只

放养的

小鸡——–

各个品种。

现在他们都

回家来

歇了——-所有的

同一类

一个速度

The chickens are circling and blotting out the day. The sun is bright, but the chickens are in the way. Yes, the sky is dark with chickens, dense with them. They turn and then they turn again. These are the chickens you let loose one at a time and small— various breeds. Now they have come home to roost—all the same kind at the same speed. – See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/20197#sthash.vDYldr7I.dpuf
The chickens are circling and blotting out the day. The sun is bright, but the chickens are in the way. Yes, the sky is dark with chickens, dense with them. They turn and then they turn again. These are the chickens you let loose one at a time and small— various breeds. Now they have come home to roost—all the same kind at the same speed. – See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/20197#sthash.vDYldr7I.dpuf

成双的事物

 .

Home to Roost

.

The chickens

are circling and

blotting out the

day. The sun is

bright, but the

chickens are

in the way. Yes,

the sky is dark

with chickens,

dense with them.

They turn and

then they turn

again. These

are the chickens

you let loose

one at a time

and small—

various breeds.

Now they have

come home

to roost—

all the same kind

at the same speed.

.

5.

成双的事物

.

有谁,谁只看见了翅膀

就可推想

鸟在地上用的

细枝条般的东西

它们向后弯曲的方式

和立着的怪样?

谁,只审视了

沙地里的爪印

就想得到那些小叉子

从风中撤了营?

这么多成双的事物如同异数

谁能梦想到

翅膀宽阔的绝望之渡鸦

会撤离天空而走

在地上,罗圈着腿

如一只普通的乌鸦

.

Paired Things

.

Who, who had only seen wings.

could extrapolate the

skinny sticks of things

birds use for land.

the backward way they bend,

the silly way they stand?

And who, only studying

birdtracks in the sand.

could think those little forks

had decamped on the wind?

So many paired things seem odd.

Who ever would have dreamed

the broad winged raven of despair

would quit the air and go

bandylegged upon the ground,

a common crow.

.

(All the poems by Kay Ryan are cited from Kay Ryan: The Best of It: New and Selected Poems, Grove Press, 2010)

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