Selected Poems of Su Tung-pʻo

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Copper Canyon Press, 1994 - Poetry - 145 pages
Poetry. " A man from a family of modest means, west central China, upper reaches of the Yangtze, travels downriver at 18 and passes, first time he takes it, the most prestigious civil service examination in the empire. Same year he marries a 15-year-old bride, and goes out on his first government assignment. He serves as a major administrator, then falls into disfavor and serves time in jail and is exiled. He develops a hardscrabble farm in the south, studies with a Zen master, runs rivers and climbs peaks, writes hundreds of letters, drinks wine with friends, and through it all is always writing poems. Brought back, he serves again, and then is exiled to a remote tropical island. Two wives having died, he travels south with his lover. Back in favor once more, he dies before he can get settled in a new home. He was also a marvelous calligrapher, whose large firm free writing can be seen in the museum in Taipei. He is considered one of China's top poets. He lived in the 11th century A.D., when China was in some ways more 'modern' artistically and intellectually than 20th century America. Burton Watson's splendid translation is a real gift. Su Tung-p'o's elegant, diverse poems are full of compassion, vision, the sense of the moment, the sweetness and hardness of life. What a joy to meet his bright, undefeated spirit" -Gary Snyder.

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About the author (1994)

Burton Watson, award-winning translator of Chinese and Japanese literature and poetry, was born in New Rochelle, New York in 1925. When he was 17 years old, he dropped out of high school and joined the Navy. He experienced Japan through his weekly shore leaves while stationed at Yokosuka Harbor in 1945. Consequently, Watson attended Columbia University and majored in Chinese and Japanese studies. In 1951, he received a Ford Foundation Overseas Fellow and returned to Kyoto. Watson received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1956. He has taught English at Doshisha University in Kyoto, and Chinese at Stanford and Columbia. Columbia University's Translation Center awarded Watson the Gold Medal Award in 1979. Watson also won the PEN Translation Prize in 1981 for his translation of Hiroaki Sato of From the Country of Eight Islands: An Anthology of Japanese Poetry. He won this award again in 1995 for Selected Poems of Su Tung-p'o. Watson moved to Japan in 1973, where he currently resides.

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