Ecstasy and Concentration: How Can a Poet’s Mind Go so Far —— Exclusive Interview with Wai-Lim Yip
Wai-Lim Yip presents equivalent richness of coverage and writings in Chinese modern poetry. His Chinese and Western cultural studies are highly praised domestically and internationally, and he is considered a leading scholar of comparative literature. Wai-Lim Yip’s poetics opens the bi-directional academic horizons of: 1. possible problems encountered with Western translation; and, 2. possible problems encountered with traditional Chinese “translation.” The term “translation” is now a famous school and has become a certain erroneous reading or appended objects appearing from the heterogeneous stagger between one local culture and another local culture. After a half century, after Taiwan has matured on the international stage, two such axes of Wai-Lim Yip’s poetry present the antithesis; the breakthrough and dilemma in the process of identifying Wai-Lim Yip’s poetics could reflect the objects appearing on the encounter of Taiwan with classics or Western tradition.
The two-year project supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology, namely ‘A study on the contribution of Wai-Lim Yip’s poetics to Taiwan poetry,’ was preceded by the author observing and interviewing Wai-Lim Yip at the University of California San Diego, where the poet was teaching, in July, 2014. The content covered Yip’s poetry instructional curricula and the poetry activity sites in San Diego. More importantly, the linguistic aesthetics of modern poetry from Yip’s integration of Chinese classics and Western poetics were covered in the interview and consultation.
The following interview transcription contains the extension of “instant” aesthetics, the essentials of translation, the inquiry of avant-garde Eastern/Western language conversion, and the syntactic heritage of “instant” or “linear connection,” which are issues seldom discussed in Taiwanese poetics. The long-term thinking in English has Professor Yip go particularly deep into the abstract in Chinese poetry, and the easy and confident talk is valuable.
Keywords: Wai-Lim Yip, translation, instant aesthetics, linear connection, avant-garde of language