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South of Words by Iris Fan Xing


Christopher (Kit) Kelen has described Iris Fan Xing’s South of Words as ‘not translation’. The intersection between English and Chinese Mandarin lies at its heart, reflecting Fan’s converging identities across settings and cultures. Her publisher, Kelen identifies that readers’ engagement with bilingual poetry can be limited by our evaluation of translated works predominantly by their faithfulness to the assumed ‘original’ product, often regarding translation itself as necessarily an act of ‘watering down’. Fan has previously subverted this notion in her debut collection, Lost in the Afternoon (2009), which was intended instead as a conversation between parallel texts, capable of greater richness and imaginative value in tandem than as a standalone works.

From a review by Alex Creece in Cordite Poetry Review, 26 April 2019

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Iris Fan Xing was born in Guangzhou and migrated to Australia in 2012 to pursue her postgraduate studies at the University of Western Australia. After completing her PhD in comparative literature and creative writing, she moved to the USA in 2018, where she currently lives and works in New York City.

She has published two bilingual books of poetry: Lost in the Afternoon (2009) and South of Words (2018) and was awarded first prize in the Poetry Section of the Hong Kong City Literary Awards in 2011. Her poems and translations can be found in WingsCha: An Asian Literary JournalFleurs des LettresVoice & VersePoetry MonthlyChinese Western PoetryCordite Poetry Review, and Westerly.


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