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SFL, SJTU Held Successfully the Workshop on “Creative Writing, Literary Translation and Culture”


To launch and promote the opening and development of MFA program in English Writing in China, a workshop on “creative writing and literary translation and culture” sponsored by School of Foreign Languages, Shanghai Jiao Tong University was held on June 4, 2016 in the Second Conference of General Office Building on Xuhui campus of SJTU. With unrelenting help of SFL’s dean Prof. Hu Kaibao and via the contacts of Prof. Jonathan Hart, a literary critic, poet and chair-professor of SFL, a large number of distinguished American poet, scholars, and translation practitioners were invited attending the workshop and delivered interesting, informative and instructive speeches around the topic “creative writing, literary translation and culture”.

       The workshop commenced with the announcement of Prof. Hu Kaibao about the opening of a centre for “creative writing, literary translation and culture” in SFL, SJTU. Then came the most dynamic and fabulous part of the workshop, when the American poet Marilyn Chin read seven of her poems, each of which was followed by the reading of her poems’ translated version of her Chinese translator. Meaningful gestures, passionate devotion and the rhythmic reading drew all the attentive audience into the Marilyn’s poetic world, while bilingualism reflected in the alternating reading of the original English reading and the translated Chinese reading tuned the conference with a kind of harmonious pleasure. Scholars even conducted a very short but heated discussion about whether the English word “sissy” should contextually be translation in the Chinese expression “danxiao gui”, “aiku baobao” or “lieren’er”。

In the following part in the morning, Prof. Zhao Baisheng from Beijing University, Prof. King-kok Cheung from UCLA, and Prof. Zhang Benzi from Shanghai University of Political Science and Law gave speeches successively. In Prof. Zhao’s view, it is necessary for us Chinese people now to realize the importance of international culture, so as not to make racist mistakes as shown in a recent laundry soap powder advertisement. He then discussed five characteristics of world literature: tribalism, colonialism, nationalism, continentalism, worldlism. Prof. Cheung being so good at both English and Chinese, displayed brilliant ideas on poetry writing and translations, paying special attention to Marilyn’s idiosyncratic creation in her parody of so many male-dominating Chinese ancient poems. Prof. Zhang Benzi expressed his significant ideas on creative writing and literary translation.

The first speaker in the afternoon, the young translator and an MFA student, Siho Ho explored the possibility and attainability of teaching creative writing among high school students in China. To present her achievements, she read some of the student’s end product, and finished her report by having Prof. Hart read two of his poems, and herself read their Chinese versions. Lines, such as “a poem is not silk/ but is/ thoughts are not silk scarves/ but are”, triggered and ignited the audiences’ love and passion toward poetry most immediately.

Following Miss Ho, the short story writer Glenn Arnold shared his experience of pursuing an MFA. He started from George Orwell’s question “Why I Write”, presented his reflection on whether art matters, and emphasized that “creative writing is not to be taught, but to be acquired through conversation”, while also pointing out that the audience doesn’t need to accepted everything presented in a workshop, but should establish its own opinion. His wife, Professor Liu Xinhui, discussed the uniqueness of literary translation. Prof. Jin Wen from Fudan University talked about how she integrates creative writing into English courses. Prof. Zhou Xiaojin, as a literary critic, gave a speech on the subtle and delicate relations between literary translation and literary critics.

Before the final part of this workshop, “voices of SFL”, the prolific translator and poet, Ye Rongding, while showing volumes of Japanese novels by translated him into Chinese, addressed a deafening and inspiring speech on the topic of literary translation and convinced the whole audience of the significance of this workshop as a milestone in the China’s future project of creative writing and literary translation.

Inspired by these warm and encouraging words, faculty from the SFL, SJTU got excited at the prospect of our Centre. Prof. Matthew Wei narrated his own experiences on a greyhound in America in order to display how a full mastery of foreign culture and civilization could help solve an awkward and infuriating racial deadlock. Prof. Shang Biwu cited the career of his favorite writer Ian McEwan to indicate the importance of training in creative writing, hoping that in the future, SFL’s Centre for Creative Writing and Literary Translation and Culture” will become known worldwide and attract world-renowned poets and writers to meet at SJTU. Other faculty of SJTU also expressed their opinion on the topic of creative writing and literary translation.

At last, Prof. Zhao Baisheng from Beida gave concrete suggestions about the subsequent operations of this centre. His suggestions included introducing renowned African writers to SJTU, contacting Penguin for publishing creative works, and sponsoring Beida-SJTU joint forum, etc. SFL dean Prof. Hu showed great interest in these activities and believed that a series of such activities would necessarily promote the achievement of this centre.

Owing to the constraints of time limit, and the range of topics, this workshop ended in a yet-to-finish atmosphere, in which every participant felt gratitude toward each other and won much confidence in the expected glory of SFJ, SJTU’s Centre for Creative Writing and Literary Translation and Culture!


Copyright: 2013 School of Foreign Languages, Shanghai Jiaotong University cross ICP No. 2010919    Technical support: :Shanghai Yi Chao