I’m happy to announce that my new article on poetic address has come out in the latest issue of Tang Studies.
“Of Admonition and Address: Right-Hand Inscriptions (Zuoyouming) from Cui Yuan to Guanxiu”
There’s a long story behind this article. I first translated some of the materials all the way back in 2015 as part of the background research for my dissertation. But I soon discovered these poems didn’t really contribute to the dissertation’s main thesis, so I set them aside.
Then, in 2017, I was invited to participate in a conference honoring my former advisor, Paul Kroll. The conference was to take place on the occasion of his 70th birthday, April 20-22, 2018. So I went back to these materials and thought about putting something together: Kroll has written several articles tracing the development of a poetic theme or image from the early period through the Tang, and I wanted to write something in a similar style.
Not long after I sent in my proposed topic, I learned that my wife was pregnant with our first child. She was due in late April 2018, the exact time of the conference.
Now, I didn’t want to back out of the conference. It was an incredible honor to be invited. Everyone else presenting were senior scholars, giants of the field (Pauline Yu, Stephen Owen, Stephen West, Jinhua Jia, etc.). At the same time, there was no way I was going to miss the birth of my first child.
So I sent my paper to my former classmate Zhuming Yao to read aloud. He and a bunch of other former Kroll students were in attendance in Boulder as part of the celebrations. I hear that he did a good job.
Meanwhile, back in California, we were going through a lot. Our daughter was born, but she had trouble breathing. She spent 5 days in the NICU, and we could barely keep it together. But eventually, Rae was fine, and came home to us.
I set the article manuscript aside, made some revisions, then sent it in to Tang Studies in November 2018. When the reviews came back in May 2019, it was clear that there was still a lot of work to do. The manuscript didn’t really have a strong hook, but was basically a collection of annotated translations.
In the meantime, I had started working on a future project on the concept of “lyricism” and its limits in medieval Chinese poetry. The issue of address is an important one in lyric theory (who’s the “you” in the poem? what’s the implied audience?), and the poems I was working on highlighted some of the complexities of this issue.
So I took a long time to revise the article. Basically rewrote it, incorporated all kinds of new theories and comparisons, sent it back in September 2020 to Tang Studies for reconsideration and got relatively quick approval. There were still some things to iron out, but it was basically ready.
In the meantime, Rae has gone from NICU baby to a happy, confident almost-3-year-old. She has a little brother. And Kroll, whose conference this was initially presented at, is now retired.
For these reasons, the article is dedicated to Paul Kroll and to Rae 余曦 Mazanec.
Here’s the URL to the article on the publisher’s website:
Here’s a link directly to the PDF: