Launch reading on World Poetry Day 2023 for David Harsent and Yang Lian
World Poetry Day 2023, Bloodaxe Books hosted this launch reading by David Harsent and Yang Lian celebrating the publication of their new poetry books with John Kittmer and Brian Holton.
John Kittmer introduced David Harsent reading his new versions of Yannis Ritsos from A Broken Man in Flower and then Yang Lian (in Morocco) read in Chinese from his new book A Tower Built Downwards in tandem with Brian Holton reading his English translations, followed by a discussion with the host, Bloodaxe editor Neil Astley.
This free Bloodaxe launch event was streamed on YouTube Live and is now available to watch on this YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zP-Y3THlVAk
To order copies of the poets’ books direct from Bloodaxe, please click on these links. If you are in Ireland or elsewhere in the EU, you can pre-order via Books Upstairs in Dublin:
David Harsent: A Broken Man in Flower UK: https://www.bloodaxebooks.com/ecs/product/a-broken-man-in-flower-1314
Ireland & EU: https://booksupstairs.ie/product/a-broken-man-in-flower/
Yang Lian: A Tower Built Downwards
Ireland & EU: https://booksupstairs.ie/product/a-tower-built-downwards/
David Harsent: A Broken Man in Flower: versions of Yannis Ritsos
Yannis Ritsos (1909–90) is generally considered to be – along with Cavafy, Seferis and Elytis – one of the most significant Greek poets of the last century. During the post-World War Two civil war – because he sided with the left – Ritsos was arrested and sent to prison camps. Then, in 1967, when the Papadopoulos military junta took control of the country, he was again arrested, again his books were banned, again he spent time in prison camps, before being confined to house arrest on the island of Samos. The violence and tyranny of dictatorship is often fractured by the surreal. In the poems collected here, written by Ritsos while in prison and under house arrest, that fracture in perception is a wound.
A Broken Man in Flower has an introduction by John Kittmer – former British Ambassador to Greece. David Harsent’s thirteen collections – published latterly by Faber – have won a number of awards, including the Forward Prize, the T.S. Eliot Prize and the Griffin International Prize.
Yang Lian: A Tower Built Downwards, translated by Brian Holton
Before and since his enforced exile from China in 1989, Yang Lian has been one of the most innovative and influential poets Chinese poets. Widely hailed in America and Europe as a highly individual voice in world literature, he has been translated into many languages. A Tower Built Downwards is the latest instalment of his poetry, written between 2019 and 2022. The different sections – short poems, sequences, and two long poems – form a single comprehensive statement of Yang’s recent explorations. It is rooted in his living experience of the historical retrogression of Hong Kong, the disaster of Covid-19, the global spiritual crisis, as well as his personal sadness at events such as the deaths of his father and brother.
Brian Holton is one of the world’s foremost translators of Chinese poetry. In 1992 he began a continuing working relationship with the poet Yang Lian, which has so far resulted in a dozen books of translated poetry, five of these from Bloodaxe. He is the lead translator and associate editor of Jade Ladder: Contemporary Chinese Poetry (Bloodaxe Books, 2012).
[28 February 2023]