Of all areas of Chinese translation, one of the most debated is that of Chinese poetry. In this chapter we will look at the creative potential of very ‘close’ rendering at one end of the spectrum, and adaptation, or transcreation, at the other end. In both cases reviewed here, the translator-writers take a course that deliberately and openly creates a target text that is diﬀerent from the source text. We take as examples the work of Jonathan Stalling, whose novel approach uses literal translation of found poetry, and an adaptation or transcreation of the poem Journey to the Peach Blossom Spring by Wang Wei as a rap-style narrative poem, a clear departure from the source text. The canon of classical Chinese poetry is well known outside China to
intellectuals, and mostly to sinophiles and poetry aﬁcionados. This is particularly true of the poems of the Tang dynasty (618-907), which have been frequently published in China in a collection of 300 items. Ezra Pound is mostly famous and occasionally infamous for having ‘translated’ a small number of them into very appealing, minimalist symbolist-type poetry. Pound’s versions stand out as examples of real English and real poetry, compared with many awkward, arrhythmic, inaccessible versions. While it is perhaps superﬂuous to translate a Tang poem yet again, the
sheer volume of extant, unsatisfactory versions permits illustration of the obstacles to transmission in acceptable foreign-language versions. The poems, which in Chinese are highly readable, are often terse and earthy.Many existing translations, especially by Chinese native speaker translators, are at best pseudo-Byronic, and at worst awkward, ungrammatical and overly sentimental. Transcreation is a long-established tradition in many cultures that transmits
cultural knowledge and values in accessible, exciting, attractive modes to new audiences: words to pictures, pictures to music, music to movement and each mode in new forms within itself. Transcreation from one language to another is one of the many modes, and we suggest that it may serve some literary forms and audiences better than translation which attempts to be ‘faithful’, ‘accurate’ or source culture-oriented. In this chapter, we suggest that transcreation of classical texts in modern guise may be beneﬁcial to transmission of a culture and genre which might otherwise remain unknown outside intellectual circles. Chinese classical poetry, which has been interpreted in very
varied forms over hundreds of years, may be a good candidate for an overtly adaptive or transcreational approach.