2,000 Ways of Looking at Wang Wei (and I still can’t resist)

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The subject of Nineteen Ways of Looking at Wang Wei: How a Chinese Poem is Translated, these four lines have not suffered from lack of translation. Gary Snyder’s rendition is beautiful – some might say perfect – as is Burton Watson’s. And then there’s Octavio Paz’s version. Yet I persist…

The transliteration on Chinese-poems.com (which differs from that offered by Eliot Weinberger):

Empty hill not see person
Yet hear person voice sound
Return scene enter deep forest
Duplicate light green moss on

And my take:

Deer Sanctuary

There’s no one on this empty hill,
but I hear someone talking.
Sunlight trickles into the forest,
reflecting onto the green moss.

Time and again Weinberger objects to an explicit first person observer, but to my ear it flows better. I’ve tried to retain a sense of precision in observation and at least a hint of duality, and believe that I’ve succeeded, at least in part. Having carried this poem with me for more than two decades, only now have I felt up to the task of adapting it. I chose the title “Deer Sanctuary” because in my neck of the woods spaces enclosed by “game fences” are generally meant for hunting. We Texans do love our venison. But the poem, to me, is ultimately peaceful. Hence my title.

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This originally appeared on the blog in April 2014.

Gemini Ink Writers Conference in San Antonio, July 2018

Gemini Ink Writers Conference in San Antonio, July 2018

This 3-day conference has quite the line up in poetry, with renowned poet and editor Veronica Golos, Pulitzer Prize winner Vijay Seshadri, and Ruth Lilly Prize winner and Pulitzer Prize finalist Martín Espada. I can’t pass up this opportunity, and have already registered for Veronica Golos’s workshop. The conference runs from Friday, July 20 until 6:00 p.m. Sunday, July 22. If you’re a local or don’t mind traveling and want to sample the Texas summer (we do have air conditioning), you might consider Gemini Ink Writers Conference. I’m excited!

The non-poetry offerings are equally impressive, but hey, I’m a poet, and will let someone else address those.

Autumn Winds (after Li Po)

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Autumn Winds (after Li Po)

Clear autumn winds swirl
below the moon’s glow,
scattering the gathered leaves.
The startled crows return.
When will we see each other again?
This hour, this lonely night, my feelings grow brittle.

The transliteration on Chinese-poems.com reads:

Autumn wind clear
Autumn moon bright
Fall leaves gather and scatter
Jackdaw perch again startle
Each think each see know what day
This hour this night hard be feeling

* * *

“Autumn Winds” last appeared here in May, 2016. I started the adaptation in the heart of summer, hoping that it would offer a respite from the unrelenting Texas heat…

Bird Fall MGD©

Recording of Self-Portrait with Knife

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Self-Portrait with Knife

Lacking benefit of prayer or belief,
it slips through flesh,

praising its temerity. Or,
parting the onion’s core, reclaims
the right to weep.

How many nights have we shared
these pleasures? I smooth the blade

with steel, listening to the fine hum.

“Self-Portrait with Knife” is included in my just released micro-chapbook Only This, available for free download from Origami Poems Project.

Awakened, He Turns to the Wall (Cento)

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Awakened, He Turns to the Wall (Cento) 

Then, everything slept.
Where were you before the day?

You see here the influence of inference,
whereby things might be seen in another light,

as if the trees were not indifferent, as if
a hand had suddenly erased a huge

blackboard, only, I thought there was
something even if I call it nothing,

like the river stretching out on its
deathbed. No one jumps off.

* * *

A cento is composed of lines from poems by other poets. This originated from pieces by: Larry Levis, Jacques Roubaud, Lorine Niedecker, Gustaf Sobin, Denise Levertov, Elizabeth Spires, William Bronk, Vicente Huidobro, Ingebord Bachmann

For further information and examples of the form, you might peruse the Academy of American Poets site: http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/text/poetic-form-cento

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This last appeared here in February 2017.

Journal Publications (September – November 2017)

Links to my publications for September – November 2017:

This Island is a Stone, Mockingheart Review, September, 2017.

That Number Upon Which the Demand Lieth. Posit, September, 2017.

Pleasure in Absence of Ending (Enso). Posit, September, 2017.

At Work I Stand Observing My Diminished Self. Posit, September, 2017.

N is Its Child. Reservoir, October 2017.

Better Than Drowning. Underfoot, October, 2017.

Ghost, with a Line from Porchia. Underfoot, October, 2017.

Elegy. Underfoot, October, 2017.

Some Answers You Never Considered. Underfoot, October, 2017.

As Blue Fades. Underfoot, October, 2017.

River Carry Me. Underfoot, October, 2017.

The Three Disappointments of Pedro Arturo, Main Street Rag, October 2017. Print only.

Snails.Vox Populi, October 2017.

Letter to Schwaner from the Toad-Swallowed Moon, Hamilton Stone Review, October 2017.

Yellow, Lost. Wildness, October 2017.

Happy Circuitry.Figroot Press, October 2017.

If You Drop Leaves. Bad Pony, November 2017.

Danez Smith Reading “Say It with Your Whole Black Mouth”

This poem makes me despair that other human beings have to write poems such as this.

This poem makes me despair that I’ll never write anything so true.

Read the poem. Listen to the recording. Celebrate Danez Smith and his words.

https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/say-it-your-whole-black-mouth-0