Ronin Institute Research Scholar Evelyn Ch’ien is running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the publication of 600 Chinese poems by diplomat Liao Entao. The annotated collection stands to be a real contribution to a really interesting period in Chinese history — the end of the Qing dynasty, through the Republican period, and the Chinese Civil War. Click here to check out the project, watch the video, and, of course, contribute!
Or, for the click-averse, here’s the description:
This book is a collection of 600 poems written by a diplomat (1864-1954) who lived in China, America, Cuba, Japan and Korea.
For the past 5 years I have been researching the lives of ancestors who participated in the transformation from Qing dynastic rule to the Republican period, and bore witness to the rise of Communist China. After a year in Guangzhou on a Fulbright fellowship, I returned home to find that I had a literary treasure on my hands. With co-editor Professor Puk Wing Kin at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, we created a team of literary classicists that annotated 600 poems by the professional diplomat Liao Entao (1864-1954). Notably, Entao’s brother was a major player in the 1911 Revolution and the anticipated successor to the Republic’s first president Sun Yat Sen, but sadly Liao Zhongkai was assassinated in 1925.
This collection of poems illuminates the historical events of the period and is a valuable contribution to the history of modern China, helping also to reveal the foundations of diplomacy between China and America.
These poems were originally written in Song Dynasty style and for that reason required annotations to expose its meanings in modern day language. Your participation in our artistic and diplomatic mission is greatly appreciated and will enable the successful completion of our project.
We will also be creating a website and report the progress of the translations to all our contributors, to whom we will give special access. Historical notes, sample translations of poems, and other information will be available. Gifts of $100+ include a translation of 20-30 poems, but every contributor will have access to the site and when the project is completed, the site with the translations and notes will be made public.
As of right now, the project is closing in on $7,000 of the $20,000 goal, with 22 days left. What’s the $20,000 for, you ask? Well, the Kickstarter money is going entirely to publication costs. All of the hard work of assembling, curating, and annotating the poems has already been done — paid for out of a Fulbright Scholarship and out of pocket.
Pledge gifts include copies of poems, etc. At the $200 level, you’ll get your very own copy of the two-volume set. ($50 and up for Volume I)
To be clear, the published books will be in Chinese. So, keep that in mind if you don’t read Chinese. I don’t, but I look forward to having an incomprehensible trophy on my bookshelf.
Also very cool is the translation project, which may be of more interest to the non-Chinese-speakers. The site probably won’t be up until January, but it will allow backers to follow along with the project as it progresses.
The Kickstarter is proceeding at a good pace. Maybe we can convince Evelyn to add a full set of translations as a stretch goal. 🙂 Evelyn?
So go check it out. The poems that you see in the video are some of the actual poems that will be published. This is an excellent example of the value and power of independent scholarship. Let’s get out there and support it!
This post is a perspective of the author, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Ronin Institute.