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To Write a Poem in Chinese and Bid It Sing:The Translatable Spaces of Creativity

by
Afaa Michael Weaver蔚雅風
A condensed version of this essay was delivered asa lecture at Beijing Normal University in Beijing, China, in October 2008for the World Literature Today conference co-sponsored with the Universityof Oklahoma.
”Yet do I marvel at this curious thing…”
--Countee Cullen
Language is a complex, specialized skill, which develops in the child spontaneously, without conscious effort or formal instruction,…” --Steven Pinker

In early autumn in Boston, I use the rearmost door of the subway car at the Museum stop so I can walk the longer way to my office. Simmons College sits on the edge of Fenway Park, and in early fall the changing colors of the trees are mesmerizing. I ease along, allowing the power of the season to distract me from turning on my computer, answering email, making fin…