Community Publishing and Poetry Translation in a Post-colonial Context

By Christopher (Kit) Kelen.

Published by The Arts Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper documents the history of community publishing efforts undertaken by a local NGO, ASM, in the Macao SAR of China, over the last five years. The brief of (ASM) the Association of Stories in Macao is to promote writing and other artistic expression in and about Macao. Macao is–a city in south China, a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic, (in 1999) the last of Europe’s colonial possessions to be returned in the Far East, China’s only city with casinos, a mere dot on the map. And yet this 28 square kilometers (at the time of writing), current population 600,000, among other things, the world’s most crowded territory, has historical and geo-political importance far outstripping the first impression given by the collection of facts just cited. That importance has to do with Macao’s various kinds of uniqueness, for instance in intercultural terms, for instance as the only place in China where gambling is legal. Macao has borne the symbolic burden of being for several hundred years (till 1831) the principal portal between China and West. Since 2005, ASM has published more than seventy volumes of local poetry and fiction, life writing and translation, as well as some pedagogic and theoretical material. A major emphasis has been on poetry translation as a cross-cultural apprenticeship for young poets working with parallel text. This paper explores ASM’s local context, its organisational structure and publications, with particular emphasis on activities related to poetry translation and response. Some consideration is given to the stakes, ethical and otherwise, in these activities. Considering both the translation of Australian poets into Chinese and other ongoing projects (especially in the translation of classical Chinese poetry), this essay attempts a theoretical and practical discussion of the role of translation in the cross-cultural apprenticeship of the poet.

Keywords: Community, Publishing, Translation, Collaboration, Postcolonial

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 6, Issue 6, pp.43-66. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.068MB).

Dr. Christopher (Kit) Kelen

Associate Professor, English Department, FSH, University of Macau, Macao, China

Christopher (Kit) Kelen (客遠文) is a well known Australian scholar and poet whose literary works have been widely published and broadcast since the mid seventies. Kelen holds degrees in literature and linguistics from the University of Sydney and two doctorates from the University of Western Sydney–a PhD in the area of poetics and an EdD in Critical Pedagogy of Creative Writing. The most recent of Kelen’s ten volumes of poetry are God preserve me from those who want what’s best for me, published in 2009 by Picaro Press, (N.S.W, Australia), in conversation with the river, published in 2010 by VAC (Chicago, USA), and China Years–Selected and New Poems, by ASM in Macao. In 2010, Kelen’s poem time with the sky placed second in the Newcastle Poetry Prize. For the last eleven years Kelen has taught Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Macau in south China.

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