Abused, abandoned and left to die of thirst or predation more than a dozen years ago on a largely uninhabited county road terminating at our rural property’s entrance, Jackboy brought much laughter and comfort to our household. Tireless shadow, friend, writing partner, loyal companion and protector, he was, and will remain forever, a good boy – in his estimation, the highest possible praise. It has been two days. We miss him.
recognition eases in: the patterns
of repetition and praise
and joy in task. The orange ball. A scorpion’s
tail. How we delight in sharing each
victory. And with the breeze
runs other unspoken tales – a neighbor’s
cruelty, bones, the pregnant raccoon
lumbering through the cedars. But nothing
deters the jump and the following drop.
Karen recently gave me 19 Ways of Looking at Wang Wei. This small book is a compilation of 19 translations of Wang Wei’s (7th century Chinese poet) poem, Deer Park, alongside an essay by Eliot Weinberger, and a concluding essay by Octavio Paz. This helped deepen my appreciation for Wang, and motivated me to attempt to transduce the poem myself.
Transduce seems a better word than translation for what I’m doing. It is an attempt to transform a distant literary energy to a local one. It follows in the footsteps of Ezra Pound’s Cathay poems. As Paz points out, referring to a TS Eliot remark, Ezra Pound invented Chinese poetry in English. He did this without in fact knowing any Chinese, but working from, as I am here, literal translations.
Few essays on writing poetry grab me by the collar, slam me against the wall, and say “Listen, dammit!” But this one did.
Camille Dungy’s words sear through the fog. She tells it slant. She tells it true. She explains how some masters have done it. If you’ve not read her poetry, seek it out. You’re in for a treat. If you have the good fortune to attend a lecture or reading by her, do so. She’s energetic, wise and kind. She knows.