Singapore Writers Week – poetry translation

Singapore arcade

On November 2, Marco Polo Project ran a fringe event to Singapore Writers Week. In partnership with Books Actually, we brought together young Singaporean poets writing in English and Mandarin for an afternoon of collaborative translation, and a discussion on the pleasures and challenges of living across languages as a writer.

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Below is a selection of the poems translated into Chinese during this event.

 

New Eyes (by Alvin Pang, English original) 

When you look at the world through new eyes,

like a mother on her newborn, or a man

in the pride of his first work,

nothing comes to you without promise;

everything asks: what would you make of me?

 

The heart learns to speak itself aloud.

Your voice unlearns its meekness,

because the world is waiting for you

to give it a name.

 

Answer it boldly. Let your eyes

rest on this, the fetal incompleteness

of thins, the deep pull of a world

unfinished. Where you stand, grounded,

is how everything will fall into place.

 

一双崭新的眼瞳 (冯启明)

 

当你用一双崭新的眼瞳看待这世界

像母亲凝视着新生儿,又或男人

专注的对待他第一份工作的自豪,

一切都是认真后的成果;

所有的质问指向:我还能为你付出什么?

一颗心能学会如何给予自己嘹亮的嗓门。

你的声音放弃了原先的温柔

只因这个世界正等待着你

为他命名

 

大胆的回应吧!让你的眼睛

如休憩般,在这片全然待兴的

脆弱里,深深的吸引着你

赋予他新意义。坚定的矗立着,

深信一切将会水到渠成。

Translation by Ang Lai Sheng

 

所有的等待 (孤星子)

等情人,等考试
等看病,等巴士
等纳税,等结婚
等事业有成,等生活规范
等荣耀,等虚无
等生儿育女,等某些变同志
等微波炉叮叮,等冰箱啤酒变冷
等生活,等工作,等自然醒
等精神田园,等世俗(不)再纷扰
等一切等等
所有等待的空档,每一次机会
除了推向死亡,
都在等着监狱里向日葵
的笑意,请再等等。

 

2014年3月26日

 

All our waiting

 

for lovers, for tests

for the doctor, for the bus

for taxes, for weddings

for success, for banalities
for glory, for vanities

for children, for some to come out

for the microwave’s ding, for the beer in the fridge to chill

for life, for work, for the unforced waking

for the garden of the spirit, for the mortal (un)coil

for such and such and so on

for the vacancy of patience, every chance we get

besides the shuffle towards death,

stalling for incarcerated sunflowers

to smile: please hold.

– lonestar (andy ang)
march 26, 2014

(translation by Alvin Pang)

 

左边 (贺尔)

 

——仿辛波丝卡《种种可能》》

 

我喜欢早上磨咖啡豆的声音

我喜欢叶子和小雨搭在一起的旋律

我喜欢街角转弯时遇见朋友的惊喜

我喜欢看别人打开饭盒时的表情

 

我喜欢回头看

我喜欢有风景的窗口

我喜欢背影,但我不喜欢影子

我喜欢跟比我老的人聊天,小孩子除外

我喜欢人类的复杂,但我不喜欢人类的狡诈

我喜欢少数服从多数,但我不喜欢人多欺负人少

 

我喜欢伯仲之间

我喜欢左边多过右边

我喜欢有人说他不大肯定答案是什么

我不喜欢这是唯一答案的答案

 

The Left Way (Seow Joo Chuan)
— After Szymborska’s “Possibilities”

 

I prefer the sound of grinding coffee beans in the morning

I prefer the melody of gentle rain on leaves

I prefer the surprise of meeting friends around the corner

I prefer the expression of people when they open a lunchbox

 

I prefer looking back

I prefer a window with a view

I prefer back profiles, but I don’t like shadows

I prefer to chat with people older than me, except children

I prefer people’s complexity, but not their deceit

I prefer majority rule, but not when minorities are bullied

 

I prefer to be in balance

I prefer the left way to the right way

I prefer when people are not sure of answers

I don’t like an answer to be the only answer.

 

(Translation Jin Yong, Ian Chung and Julien Leyre)

 

停诗间 (张国强)


警察送来时

断裂

惨白

沾满血

 

年轻人的法拉利

太快太猛

诗闪避不及

 

中年人送来时

衰老

破败

不堪推敲

 

中年人的储藏室

太小太窄

容不下

父亲的收藏

 

小孩送来时

鲜嫩

奋发

急待破土

 

小孩的心房

太功利

容不下

跟考试绝缘的诗

 

急着上门的人

明天请早

该下班了

 

Poet Mortem (Teo Kok Keong) 

 

The policeman was delivered

fractured

pale

bloodied

 

The young man’s Ferrari

too fast too fierce

for a poem’s body to dodge

 

The middle-aged man was delivered

faded

defeated

incomprehensible

 

The middle-aged man’s store-room

too small too narrow

to contain

father’s collection

 

The child was delivered

fresh

eager

to breakthrough

 

The child’s heart

too pragmatic

to accomodate

the body of a poem divorced from exams

 

Those anxious to get in

tomorrow please note

we’re closing early

 

(Translation Jin Yong, Ian Chung and Julien Leyre)

3 comments

  1. Hi Julien,

    “Poet Mortem” is by Teo Kok Keong(张国强) and “The Left Way” is by Seow Joo Chuan(贺尔).

    Please help to correct, thank you =)

    Cheers,
    Andy Ang

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