I Read it in the London Review of Books: Translating Finnegans Wake — the Not Quite so Famous Book by James Joyce — Into Chinese

LRBThere’s a woman on the job
who’s translated the first third
and vague about when she’ll finish
what with family and work.

This other woman – me – is ploughing on.
I’ve written a first draft of the first third
of a novel about saving the world
one small step at a time
in many different places.

I went to a dinner at the Chinese Embassy
here in Wellington
where people from both countries
congratulated each other on two exhibitions
from China
at Te Papa Tongarewa

and kept saying – everyone said it –
the exhibitions are a cultural thing –
important in themselves
not to do with trade,
although the exposure will help with that.
Of course.

Some of ‘our’ taonga are over there
travelling about. Being good exposure.
Maori items are good for that, we know.

Don’t miss the paintings of Shi Lu.
The one of Mao on the cliff made me laugh;
It would have taken only a little push.
Shi Lu was sent to prison.
The flowers with calligraphy
are so so beautiful
there’s nothing to say.

I’ll finish my book. I guess the woman
who is translating a book no-one
understands in English into Chinese
will finish some time.
The first third is published and is,
they say, a best-seller.


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