Nine Windows 九叶窗 Curated & introduced by Ming Di

Nine represents infinite in Chinese culture, for instance, nine towers, nine skies. Here we have nine translations from nine languages that take us to nine worlds of Otherness leading to infinite possibilities of creativeness in literary translation and/or bilingual writing.

      First we see several “strange” languages, such as Katica Kulavkova’s poem in Macedonian through Andrej Temelkovski’s translation; Keshab Sigdel’s poem in Nepali through his own translation; Gouthama Siddarthan’s poem in Tamil (an ancient language in Southern India) through Maharathi’s translation and through Thein Aung’s translation, Mong San’s poem in Arakan (an ethnic minority language in Myanmar). We also see Ana Hudson’s translation of Rui Cóias’s poems from Portuguese (no biases toward the most translated Romance languages). 

      The original versions of the poems are presented along with the English translations as the glass windows reflect what’s inside as well as what’s outside and sometimes with double images, for instance, Chrystal Ho and Al Lim’s translation of Asu Sumur’s bilingual poem in Chinese and Xibe (an ethnic minority language from China).

      Mark Bener’s student Ai-Ling Lu presents her English translation with many strange words such as “ho ho ho iyan” to show how the Taiwanese poet Adaw Palaf blends his indigenous language, Amis, into his Chinese poem.

      There is a thin line between self-translation and bilingual writing. Dulce Chiang from Mexico writes in Spanish but her English is equally strong. What’s even more interesting in her sequence of poems is that she uses the sound of her ancester’s language, Chinese, directly in the poems, such as Jiu (liquor/wine) and Shejiu (snake wine). The strange words might be a barrier to some readers in the beginning but you get the meaning from the contexts of the poems. To me, I see myself through the glass window. 

      Jiaoyang Li is one of the many new voices from the Asian diaspora communities in America. She is a co-founder of Accent Society (a literary platform in NYC) and Accent Sisters (a bookstore in Jersey City). Jiaoyang turns her Chinese “Accent” into a unique English and writes bilingual poems in English and Chinese. Is writing in a second language a process of translation? Not necessarily. Translation can be as creative as creative writing (all writing is mental translating). One sees the self and the other simultaneously and communicates with both. And the other becomes a seer of itself.

Ming Di