Eleanor Goodman

Eleanor Goodman

Photo by Barry Braunstein Photography


Eleanor Goodman is an award-winning translator and author. Her first poetry collection is Nine Dragon Island (2016), and her translations include Something Crosses My Mind: Selected Poems of Wang Xiaoni (2014), Iron Moon: An Anthology of Chinese Workers Poetry (2017), The Roots of Wisdom: Poems by Zang Di (2017), and Days When I Hide My Corpse in a Cardboard Box: Poems of Natalia Chan (2018). She has been an artist in residence at the American Academy in Rome, held a Fulbright grant to Beijing, and participated in the Princeton Poetry Festival. She is a research associate at the Harvard University Fairbank Center.

Project Description

To support the translation from the Chinese of Elegies for My Son by Zang Di (b. 1964), who early in his writing career also worked as a reporter for the second largest state-owned news service in China. Conducting interviews, traversing remote parts of his home city, and seeing how different people lived their lives left him fascinated with multiplicities of points of view, a quality that is reflected in his poetry. For decades, Zang Di has committed to writing a poem a day. The poems in Elegies for My Son were written in the wake of Zang Di suffering the loss of his seven-year-old son in a drowning accident.

Of all the many wonderful things that a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship implies, what I find myself focused on most these days is the idea of fellowship: camaraderie, companionship, mutual support, and understanding. All writers spend most of their time communing with a computer screen or a written page, often alone in a silent room. But a fellowship offers a broader community, a sense of belonging and of connection.

Yet translation itself is a kind of fellowship: a meeting of minds and artistic sensibilities and cultural baggage. It is a deep kind of empathy, a practice of temporarily inhabiting another language, another sensory perspective, even another life. To be able to engage in all this within the larger fellowship of the NEA is an incredible honor, and I’m deeply grateful for these gifts of time and of community.