No Trace of the Gardener


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Poems of Yang Mu

Yang Mu; Translated by Lawrence R. Smith and Michelle Yeh

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Yang Mu, a pivotal figure in the development of modern Chinese literature, is one of the most widely read living poets of the world’s largest literary audience: Chinese-speaking people. Providing a selection of poems from more than three decades of work, this book offers over one hundred translations that capture the poet’s haunting lyricism. Drawing on avant-garde traditions of Europe and the United States as well as on the traditions of classical Chinese poetry and prose, his work explores intense sensuality and the erotic, the anguish of war, exile, the colonial experience, and conflicting views of national and cultural identity.

Born Wang Ching-hsien in Taiwan in 1940, Yang Mu lived in a rich cultural and linguistic environment, learning Taiwanese, a Hua-lien tribal dialect, Japanese, Mandarin, and English. When he arrived in the United States in 1964, the young poet added Old English, ancient Greek, Latin, and German to his repertoire. Yang Mu’s poetry fully reflects this dazzling range and diversity. This volume also includes an essay placing the poet’s work in the context of twentieth-century literary movements and in the long tradition of Chinese poetry.

Yang Mu is professor of comparative literature at the University of Washington and dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at National Dong Hwa University, Taiwan. He is the author, editor, and translator of more than forty books of poetry and prose. Lawrence R. Smith is a translator of modern Italian literature, a poet, writer of fiction, and the editor of Caliban. Michelle Yeh, professor of Chinese and Japanese at the University of California at Davis, is the author of Modern Chinese Poetry and editor of the Anthology of Modern Chinese Poetry, both published by Yale University Press.

"Yang Mu is an immensely likable poet, and his following continues to grow. This translation is well-nigh flawless."Eugene Eoyang, Indiana University/ Lingnan College, Hong Kong

"The translators’ modern, poetic language does justice to Yang Mu’s originals and introduces to the English reader an important contemporary Chinese poet. . . The lines flow freely and beautifully. . . This volume should have a broad appeal because of the poet’s wide range of themes."—Choice

"This volume, the first devoted exclusively to Yang Mu, presents 132 poems written between 1958 and 1991. The translators' modern, poetic language does justice to Yag Mu's originals and introduces to the English reader an important contemporary Chinese poet."—Y. L. Walls, Choice

"[Yang Mu] is a poet who works with the materials that he has, and those materials include a sense of poetic and cultural history that transcends the cultural division of the 'West' and China. He has become bicultural. . . . [Yang Mu] offers the largest hope for the future [of Chinese poetry] because he draws two disparate histories together."—Stephen Owen, New Republic

"The overall effect of reading through this collection and surveying the evolution of Yang Mu's work is impressive. He has a restless energy and formal command that always make his work engaging. Lawrence Smith and Michelle Yeh have done a superb job of translating Yang Mu's challenging work into English. The translations are sensuous, vivid, and alive. No Trace of the Gardener is essential reading."—Arthur Sze, Manoa, Pacific Journal of International Writing

ISBN: 9780300184204
Publication Date: November 30, 2011
278 pages, 5 1/8 x 9
Anthology of Modern Chinese Poetry

Edited and translated by Michelle Yeh

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