Tomorrow I fly out to Shanghai with poets Bill Herbert and Sean O’Brien for a two city Poetry Festival in Yangzhou and Nanjing. There are many aspects of the trip that are very exciting – these cities being at the heart of China’s ancient poetry tradition, home to Li Po and Du Fu For one. But, for me, the trip is also a reunion with some Chinese poets I know well and can’t wait to see: Xi Chuan, Tang Xiaodu, Zhai Yongming and Yang Lian.
In 2005 I took Bill, Antony Dunn and Pascale Petit to China to work with these poets. This idea grew out of some translation work I had done with Yang Lian at Cove Park. our work was such a success we hatched a plan to bring others in and Cove Park’s Poet to Poet was born.
The friendships, professional relationships and translation work begun all those years ago have continued to blossom in the intervening years. Yang Lian has gone on to put together many festivals and projects with British poets in China.
I hope to post on this site while I’m away. Posts have been infrequent lately as I have been rewriting my memoir and it takes a great deal of dogged concentration to do properly. Prose writers I salute you! And poets, here I come for my hug in Shanghai!