Excerpted from Sell Your Bones, a new collection of poetry by Reid Mitchell (PalmArtPress, Berlin, February 2019). Reprinted with permission.
Apparently a good pun does not need to be explained. But this title is no joke. I like puns, and I like words, and many of them made their way to a stage as they developed through different phases in my life. Incidentally, I like Shakespeare too.
Only several poems by the now forgotten 1930s Shanghai poet Shao Xunmei (1906-1968) have previously been rendered into English, making our translation of his two major volumes a first. We have long considered Shao well worth translating, owing as much to his colorful artistic persona as to his verse. The former mostly flowered during his studies at Cambridge in the mid-1920s, when he was exposed to Western poets like Baudelaire and Verlaine. However, it was mainly AC Swinburne who became Shao’s avatar in both art and life, as our translations below show. Cambridge also introduced Shao to the comfort of English shoes, which he wore with a traditional Chinese scholar’s silk gown—a true cultural hybrid!
It’s 2017, and Wonder Woman is about to make her big screen debut. Fearless, mighty girl-heroes such as Rey, Jyn Erso, and Katniss Everdeen take centre-stage in the film-going public’s imagination.
It is time to reclaim the hero story with an empowered feminine lens. Girls’ Adventure Stories of Long Ago is both a tribute, and a wake-up call. A poetic re-imaging of Joseph Campbell’s Hero With a Thousand Faces, my second collection explores ancient and modern landscapes, love lost and rediscovered; adventures undertaken and obstacles overcome.
Chinatown Sonnets is a sonnet sequence that updates the age-old idea of East meets West in which West fetishizes East, Hong Kong emulates Paris, Mong Kok is the “Times Square of Asia”, and primetime television in Hong Kong rivals American soap operas in upper class drama.
I feel the idea of displacement is central to Louder than Hearts—displacement from the land, from home, from memory, and from one’s mother language. The book is dedicated “To our broken languages & our broken cities,” but I wanted to find song and celebration too, inside the brokenness.
From the preface:
To commemorate the 400th anniversary of the death of Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes, we asked contemporary poets to interpret the themes of Cervantes’s classic Don Quixote for Hong Kong and East Asia, in particular the tension between pragmatism and vision, the “real world” and dreams or, in the words of scholar Ilan Stavans, “between hope and fatalism, … idealism and materialism”, and to explore what this says about the nature of humanity and success.
We hope we have succeeded in having exposed a new generation of poets to a work that many have called the first “modern” novel, and that they and their readers find, in the word of Harold Bloom,