Letter from Poetry Magazine

Letter to the Editor

by Joseph Bednarik
Dear Editor,

One of my favorite books is Eliot Weinberger's slender classic on translation, Nineteen Ways of Looking at Wang Wei, which makes a strong and illuminating case for reading multiple translations of a single poem. That said, I encourage everyone to read Marilyn Chin's translations of the Vietnamese poet Ho Xuan Huong [April 2008] against John Balaban's in Spring Essence: The Poetry of Ho Xuan Huong. When I read Chin's translations, I couldn't help but wonder: which Nym character means "boo hoo"? (Emphasis Chin's.) Biased as my opinion may appear (I work at Copper Canyon, Balaban's publisher), I don't see how Chin's versions add depth or nuance to the work. Frankly, they read like someone noodling around in the margins of someone else's book.

Port Townsend, Washington

Originally Published: May 16, 2008

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This prose originally appeared in the June 2008 issue of Poetry magazine

June 2008

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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