An Interview with William Marr
诗人非马访谈

By Alan Harris(采访者:阿伦-哈里斯)

1. Where were you born and raised? Were you raised in a literary family? When did you come to the USA?
你是在哪里出生长大的?你出身于一个文学家庭吗?何时来到美国?

I was born in Taiwan but spent my childhood in a small village in Southern China. At the end of World War II, I returned to Taiwan and attended school there. In 1961, after completing my undergraduate studies, I came to the United States.

I was not raised in a literary family. My mother never went to school and claimed that she did not recognize one single Chinese character, although mysteriously she could read some rather lengthy story books. My father did go to school for a few years but was away from home most of the time, running business overseas. I was more influenced by my uncle, also a businessman, who was fond of classical Chinese literature and painting.

我出生于台湾,但在广东乡下度过童年。二次世界大战后我回到台湾上学。在受完专科教育后,我在1961年秋天来到美国留学。

我不是出身于书香门第。我的母亲从未上过学也不识字,但奇妙的是,她能朗读一些长篇的民间故事书。我的父亲上过几年小学,但他长期在南洋做生意。我那位喜爱中国古典文学及绘画的伯父给我的影响较大 。

2. How did you first become interested in writing poetry? What was your age and what were the circumstances?
你如何对写诗发生兴趣的?你那时候几岁?能说说当时的情况吗?

When I was in my fourth grade, there was a severe drought in that part of the country. Our teacher asked each of us to write an article praying for rain. The morning after I turned in my article, a poem bearing my name was posted on the wall in the classroom. My teacher had broken up the lines of my essay and put them in the form of a poem. It happened that my uncle was home on vacation at the time, and my poem must have caught his fancy because for the rest of his stay, he would recite it to every visitor who came to our house. That really sparked my interest in poetry, but I did not begin writing until I entered college in Taipei and started a school publication. As its editor, I had to write all sorts of things -- stories, essays, and poems, etc. -- just to fill up the pages. However, I remained nameless in Taiwan's poetry circle before I left for this country.

我读小学四年级的时候,那年夏天广东乡下大旱, 老师要我们每人写一篇求雨的作文。第二天早上到学校一看,教室里的布告栏上张贴了一首白话诗,作者是我。原来是老师把我的作文分行,排列成新诗的形式。刚好我的伯父从南洋回家度假,看到了那首诗,大为赞赏。每当客人上门,他便朗诵给客人听,还不忘当众夸奖我两句。就这样引发了我对诗的兴趣。但真正开始写诗,却是我进入台北工专,与同学创办了一个叫《晨曦》的文艺刊物以后的事。作为刊物的创办人兼主编,我不得不自己写各种各样的东西,包括小说、散文以及诗等等,去填补空白。但在我离开台湾以前,在诗坛上可说是藉藉无名。

3. Through what chain of events did you become a popular poet in China?
是什么样的机缘使你在台湾及中国成为普受欢迎的诗人?

When I started working in Milwaukee after I received my MS degree from Marquette University in 1963, a friend of mine, who was a well-known young poet and the editor of a bimonthly poetry magazine in Taiwan, asked me to translate, on a regular basis, contemporary American poetry for the magazine. Along with my translations, he also published some of my poems. Later he told me that poets and readers were asking who Fei Ma (my Chinese pen name) was. They seemed quite excited yet somewhat perplexed by the sudden emergence of a rather mature new poet.

1963年我获得机械硕士学位后,在威斯康辛州的密尔瓦基市工作。我的朋友、台湾诗人白萩那时候刚好担任《笠诗刊》的主编,要我每期译介一位当代美国诗人的作品。他同时也把我自己写的一些诗在该诗刊上发表。后来他告诉我,许多人在读了我的诗以后,纷纷向他打听非马是谁。他们似乎都为看到这么一位刚露出头便显得相当成熟的诗人感到既兴奋又多少有点困惑。

This friend later helped me edit and publish my first book of poems In the Windy City. He also arranged to have several reviews of my book published in the magazine. It created quite a stir when one of the reviewers favorably compared my book to a book published by one of the best-known poets in Taiwan at the time. Since then, I have published a total of 14 books and several translations in Taiwan, China Mainland, and Hong Kong. My poems have appeared in over ninety poetry anthologies published in Taiwan and China. Recently, one of my poems, Bird Cage, was included in a Chinese Literature textbook used by a university in Taipei. I consider it a rare honor since, under the same cover, there are names of such great poets as Li Po and Tu Fu.

白萩后来帮我编辑并出版了我的第一本诗集《在风城》。他同时也组织了几位诗人及诗评家对我的书做出评论,并连续两三期在《笠诗刊》上密集发表。当一位评论者把我的书同当时一位极负盛名的诗人的诗集相比较,并说出「不知要高出多少倍」的评语时,在台湾造成了不小的涟漪。之后我在台湾、香港及大陆一共出版了十四本诗集,几本翻译的书,还主编了几本诗选。我的作品被收入九十多种不同语言的诗选。最近我的一首题为《鸟笼》的诗被台北一个大学选入该校中文系的《国文选》。能同李白、杜甫这样伟大诗人的名字出现在同一个封面下,对我来说当然是一种难得的殊荣。

4. Did learning the English language hamper your fluency with writing poems in Chinese?
学习英文会造成你写作中文诗的障碍吗?

I really don't think so. As a matter of fact, I think the opposite is true. I've found that in translating my own poems from one language to the other (whether it was originally written in Chinese or in English), I can see more vividly the difference between the two languages (and, for that matter, the two cultures). And it is often possible to find some way to enrich the languages and, in the process, improve the poems.

我相信不会。事实上恰恰相反。我发现当我把自己的一首诗从一个文字翻译成另一种文字时(不管它是先用中文或英文写就),我能更清楚地看到两种文字(以及两种文化)之间的差异。在反复互译修改的过程中,语言因之丰富,诗意也随之增强。

5. Do you think that having several of your poems posted on your Web site has helped your popularity?
你认为把你的一些诗张贴在你的网站上,对你的名声有帮助吗?

I'm not sure. Most of my Chinese readers came to know my poetry from publications such as newspapers, magazines, anthologies, and books. Several young poets told me that they first encountered my poetry when they were in high school and that it had a big influence on their own writing. Some of them could even recite my poems without much difficulty after so many years.

我不太敢确定。我的中文读者大多从报刊杂志及选集诗集接触到我的作品。一些年轻诗人告诉我说他们在初中的时候便读到我的诗,对他们自己的写作造成了颇大的冲击与影响。他们有些人甚至在这么多年后还能毫无困难地背诵出我的诗来。

Through my own Web site I have established contacts with poets and scholars from several Asian and European countries. A couple of years ago, a poet from Israel translated some of my poems into Hebrew and posted them on a Web site.

通过我的网站,我同一些来自亚洲及欧洲的诗人学者们建立起联系。前年一位以色列诗人把我网站上的几首诗翻译成希伯莱语,张贴在一个世界诗网站上。

Lately, I discovered that several Chinese Web sites have set up Web pages dedicated to my poems. Some had posted over one hundred of my poems in their collections.

最近我发现几个中文网站设置了我的诗库,有的收集多达一百多首。

6. What has your occupation been? Has your career in the USA had any effect on your poetry writing? If so, what effect(s)?
你的职业是什么?你在美国的职业对你写诗有影响吗?若有,是些什么样的影响?

I worked at Argonne National Laboratory after receiving my Ph.D. in nuclear engineering at the University of Wisconsin in 1969. Before taking early retirement several years ago, I did research on energy and environmental systems and electric vehicles. I don't think my career had much effect on my poetry writing. Many critics, however, did point out that the refined qualities they often found in my poetry could probably be attributed to the scientific training I had received.

1969年取得威斯康辛大学核工博士学位后,我到位于芝加哥近郊的阿冈国家研究所工作。在我退休之前,我的研究兴趣主要集中在核能发电安全、能源与环境系统、以及电动车上面。我不认为我的工作对我写诗有什么特别的影响。但常有评论者指出,我诗质的精炼以及诗思的慎密,很可能来自科学训练。

7. Why do you think you write mostly very short poems?

为什么你写的大多是短诗?

Several reasons. First, working full time did not permit me the luxury of writing long poems. But, more importantly, short poems are my perception of what poetry should be. By my definition, a good poem uses the least amount of words to stir up the strongest of our innermost feelings. Each poem is a universe in itself. Many good examples can be found in classical Chinese poetry.

有几个原因。首先,我的专业工作不允许我有写长诗的奢侈。更重要的是,我心目中理想的诗就是短诗。我对诗的定义是:用最少的文字打进心灵的最深处。每首诗是一个宇宙。我们能在中国古典诗里找到许多这样的好例子。

8. Is it possible to boil down the messages of all your poems into a single sentence or two? Or does each poem have its own life and statement?

有无可能把你所有的诗中的信息用一两句话来归纳?或者每首诗都有它各自的生命与指令?

I intend for each of my poems to have its own form, its own voice, and its own life. Through poetry, it's possible to discover new meaning and new beauty in ordinary objects from our everyday lives. If my poetry can help people recall or rediscover a happy moment in their lives, or bring back a beautiful scene from their memories, or it can show them that the world is still full of interesting and exciting things, and that it is so beautiful and so wonderful to be alive, then I think I have succeeded as a poet.

我尽力想让每首诗都有它独自的形式,独自的声音,与独自的生命。通常一首好诗能为我们唤回生命中快乐美好的时光,或记忆中的美景。它能使我们在日常事物中发现 新的意义与新的美。它告诉我们,这世界仍充满了有趣及令人兴奋的东西。它使我们觉得能活著真好。能写出几首这样的诗来,我想我便不愧为诗人了。

Ford Maddox Ford (1873-1939), an English author, once wrote, "The quality of great poetry is that without comment as without effort it presents you with images that stir your emotions; so you are made a better man; you are softened, rendered more supple of mind, more open to the vicissitudes and necessities of your fellow men." These words often cross my mind whenever I write a poem.

英国作家福特(Ford Maddox Ford,1873 -1939)曾说过这样的话:「伟大诗歌是它无须注释且毫不费劲地用意象搅动你的感情;你因而成为一个较好的人;你软化了,心肠更加柔和,对同类的困苦及需要也更慷慨同情。」在我写诗的时候,这些话常闪掠过我的心头。

English version of this interview appeared in ISPS NEWS ,JAUNARY 2002,
中文部分刊登于2002年1月号《文讯 》(台北)

William Marr (Fei Ma) is the author of fourteen books of poetry (all in his native Chinese language except Autumn Window which is in English) and several books of translations, including the bilingual anthology Let the Feast Begin—My Favorite English Poems. He has also edited and published several anthologies of contemporary Taiwanese and Chinese poetry. A longtime resident of Chicago, he served from 1993 to 1995 as the president of the Illinois State Poetry Society.
诗人非马出版有十四本诗集 ( 除《秋窗 》是英文外,其它都是中文 ) 以及几本翻译,包括双语诗选《让盛宴开始──我喜爱的英文诗》。他还编选出版了几本台湾及中国现代诗选。他是前任伊利诺州诗人协会的会长,现居芝加哥。

Alan Harris is the President of the Illinois State Poetry Society.
阿伦-哈里斯是美国伊利诺州诗人协会会长。

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