2003

Mercury Rising
Contemporary Poetry from Taiwan

Series Editor Frank Stewart
Guest Editors
Arthur Sze and Michelle Yeh

The Mystified Boat
Postmodern Stories from China

Series Editor Frank Stewart
Guest Editor Herbert J. Batt

Mercury Rising features new poetry from Taiwan, assembled by guest editors Arthur Sze and Michelle Yeh. Daring and original, the poetry of Taiwan is culturally distinct, blending indigenous, Taiwanese, immigrant, and classical Chinese writing with influences from postmodern Europe, Japan, and America.

Presented here are nearly twenty of Taiwan’s most innovative poets: Xu Huizhi, Hong Hong, Chen Kehua, Luo Zhicheng, Yang Mu, Luo Fu, Luo Ying, Liu Kexiang, Ling Yu, Wu Sheng, Li Jinwen, Monaneng, Walis Nokan, Jian Zhengzhen, Chen Li, Hsia Yu, Shang Qin, and Du Shisan.

In an interview series titled “Frontier Perspectives,” the guest editors talk to Ya Xian, Yang Mu, and Luo Fu about the development of modern poetry in Taiwan.

The volume also includes the following:

  • A remarkable portfolio of photographs by Sergio Goes documenting the Iona Contemporary Dance Theatre’s performance The Mythology of Angels. Introductory text and captions are by Gavan Daws.
  • “Defying Time and History,” a provocative interview by Alberto Milián with Cuban American poet Ricardo Pau-Llosa.
  • Ka-Shue (Letters Home), a full-length play by New Zealand poet-playwright Lynda Chanwai-Earle.

Extract

During the past five decades, Taiwan has evolved dramatically, from a little-known island to a nation-state with twenty-three million people and one of the largest economies in the world. Some of the best modern Chinese poetry comes from Taiwan, and the evolution of modern Taiwanese poetry tells the story of how the periphery has transformed itself into the frontier—an open, cosmopolitan zone where experimental leaps are possible and boundaries easily crossed to create a poetry “in the wild.”
—from Arthur Sze, introduction to interviews

The Mystified Boat features postmodern fiction from China assembled by guest editor Herbert J. Batt. Shifting points of view, characters who misunderstand each other in ways that have dire consequences, unreliable narrators who address readers in order to tell them what to think, events that are impossible in the reality we know and depend on—these are some of the startling elements characteristic of the fiction in this volume.

The authors are some of China’s most experimental and best-known postmodernists: Ma Yuan, Ma Jian, Ge Fei, Hong Ying, Su Tong, Lin Bai, Yan Li, Can Xue, Wang Anyi, and Yu Hua. Through radical experiments with fiction, they seek to question the meaning of “story” and the many conventions that drive our assumptions about narrators and narration. Their stories take us from mountain villages to small towns on the outskirts of Chinese urban culture to the heart of cities, where life rushes at terrific speed.

In the overview essay, “Into the Labyrinth: An Introduction to Postmodern Chinese Fiction,” Batt and scholar Yongchun Cai clarify the intentions of the postmodern Chinese fiction writers, explain how the movement developed, and describe its influence in Chinese society and literature today.

The volume also includes rare ink-and-gouache works by painter Mu Xin and book reviews by Leza Lowitz, Trevor Carolan, Dino Mahoney, Liana Holmberg, Lavonne Leong, and others.

About the guest editor: Herbert J. Batt received his doctorate in Elizabethan drama from the University of Toronto, has taught at universities in Shanghai and Beijing, and has translated numerous works from Chinese. He is the editor and translator of Tales of Tibet, a collection of postmodern fiction written by contemporary Chinese and Tibetans, and was guest editor, with Tsering Shakya, of Song of the Snow Lion.

216 pp., summer 2003 (15:1), $20

ISBN 978-0-8248-2743-0

232 pp., winter 2003 (15:2), $20

ISBN 978-0-8248-2799-6