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Wong May

Author Photo of Wong May
Books by this author: In the Same Light (Ed. and Tr.)
  • About
  • Reviews
  • Awards
  • Wong May was born in the war capital, Chongqing in 1944 China. She was brought up in Singapore by her mother, a classical Chinese poet. She studied English Literature at the University of Singapore with the poet D.J. Enright; she was at the Iowa Writers Workshop 1966–68. Soon after, she left the USA for Europe. She lives in Dublin, where she paints under the name Ittrium Coey. She has exhibited in Dublin & Grenoble.
    'I adored Wong May's In the Same Light: 200 Tang Poems for Our Century. Classic Chinese poetry has not lacked outstanding translators into English, but this volume is a game changer. Her sprawling afterword about the poets - accompanied, unforgettably, by commentary from a talking rhino - is itself worth the price of admission.'

    Daniel Medin, The White Review
    'Sadness, exile, homesickness, grief, rhinos - whatever you might presume you know of these subjects, this collection offers new ways of seeing them... the afterword would be worthy of publication as an independent essay. Such an innovative and expansive work deserves latitude.'

    Sabina Knight, Mekong Review

    'Wong's quirky, individual voice, her own original spirit in translation and commentary, accompanies us on an unmissable journey through her Tang poetry; we can only be grateful for that queasy moment in a Beijing hotel room when the project began slowly but inexorably to announce itself and gradually take hold.'

    Peter Sirr, Dublin Review of Books

     '[An] extraordinary Afterword, titled 'The Numbered Passages of a Rhinoceros in the China Shop', is a magnificent, peculiar tour de force that spans nearly a hundred pages, and the book is transformed by its existence [...] entrancing, and entirely sincere.'

    Daryl Lim Wei Jie, Asian Books Blog

    'A book very contemporary in its human closeness.... Wong May offers an extensive Afterword on the poetry and its interpreters. No mere translator's note, this capacious essay is historical, critical, comical, personal, structural and mystical by turns, exploring the Tang context of the original poets and the poetry's echoes over the last millennium or so, up through Pound and Mao and Dharma Bums. Wong May hopes "to return the text to the body of world literature" through her investigations as a translator and critic. Her work deserves this hope, which is better than any reparative aim for poetry, always complicit in and resistant to the politics of its times.'

    Harry Josephine Giles, Poetry Book Society Translation Selector

    Awards won by Wong May Winner, 2023 The Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize (In the Same Light) Short-listed, 2023 The National Translation Award in Poetry by the American Literary Translators Association (In the Same Light) Joint winner, 2022 A Windham Campbell Prize for Poetry Commended, 2022 The Poetry Book Society Spring Translation Choice (In the Same Light)
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