2012

Sky Lanterns
New Poetry from China,
Formosa, and Beyond

Series Editor Frank Stewart
Guest Editor Fiona Sze-Lorrain

On Freedom
Spirit, Art, and State

Series Editor Frank Stewart
Guest Editor Fiona Sze-Lorrain

Sky Lanterns brings together innovative work by authors—primarily poets—in mainland China, Taiwan, the United States, and beyond who are engaged in truth-seeking, resistance, and renewal. Appearing in new translations, many of the works are published alongside the original Chinese text. A number of the poets are women, whose work is relatively unknown to English-language readers. 

Contributors include Amang, Bai Hua, Bei Dao, Chen Yuhong, Duo Yu, Hai Zi, Lan Lan, Karen An-hwei Lee, Li Shangyin, Ling Yu, Pang Pei, Sun Lei, Arthur Sze, Fiona Sze-Lorrain, Wei An, Woeser, Yang Lian, Yang Zi, Yi Lu, Barbara Yien, Yinni, Yu Xiang, and Zhang Zao.

Sky Lanterns also features images from the Simple Song series by photographer Luo Dan. Traveling with a portable darkroom in remote, mountainous regions of southern China’s Yunnan Province, Luo Dan uses the laborious nineteenth-century, wet plate collodion process of exposure and development. In exquisite detail, he captures a rural life that has remained intact for centuries.

The front cover features images from the Soul Stealer series by photographers Zeng Han and Yang Changhong. Together they photographed Landplay, a traditional opera staging in villages in rural Guizhou, southwest China; and Cosplay, a fantasy experience staged by teenagers against the backdrop of the Yangtze River and the fast-developing city of Chongqing. Landplay depicts battle scenes and ancient spirits from Chinese history. Cosplay depicts imaginary characters, mostly from Japanese manga. Both play types draw on an invented world rich in cultural and spiritual themes.

The various meanings of freedom are difficult to explain in the discursive language of theory and philosophy. But authors of fiction, poetry, and other narrative forms—using metaphor, parable, and figurative speech—are often at home with what is difficult and too subtle for reason alone.

Residing in countries throughout Asia and North America, the authors in On Freedom help us understand the need for cultural, spiritual, and intellectual freedoms in order to have a life that is fully realized.

Essays in On Freedom are by Japanese writer Mutsuo Takahashi, Tibetan Woeser Tsering, and American Phil Choi. Drama is by American writer Catherine Filloux. Fiction is by Chinese writers A Yi and Zhang Yihe; South Asian Sukrita Paul Kumar; Americans Quan Barry and Andrew Lam; Canadian Susan Musgrave; American Thersa Matsuura, now living in Japan; and Filipino Jose Y. Dalisay Jr. Poetry is by Chinese writer Chen Dongdong; Burmese Khin Aung Aye, Thitsar Ni, and Tin Moe; and Americans W. S. Di Piero, Tess Gallagher, Melissa Kwasny, and Naomi Long.

The art is by well-known photographer Linda Connor.

Extract

Tears
A strand of gray hair
a decade gone

In those Years
the honey wasn't sweet
mushrooms wouldn't sprout
farmlands were parched

The mist hung low
the skies were gloomy
Clouds of dust on the cart tracks
Acacia and creepers
and thorn-spiral blossoms
But it never rained

—from "Desert Years" by Tin Moe, translated by Maung Tha Noe and Christopher Merrill

168 pp., summer 2012 (24:1), $20
ISBN 978-0-8248-3698-6

200 pp., winter 2012 (24:2), $20
ISBN 978-0-8248-3855-3