Archive for the 'poetry' Category


Valentine’s Day

Taiwan celebrates the idea of love three times a year by including the Valentine’s Day of February 14th and the Japanese White Day in addition to the traditional seventh day of the seventh month when singletons go to temples to burn incense and pray to meet a lovely significant other.   On the February 14th Valentine’s Day, Taipei 101 lights up a heart and malls everywhere are dotted with sales for your sweetie (Really, the US should be so inclusive– we could have tried stimulating the economy with Lunar New Year withdrawals to give each other money in red envelopes).  Taiwan has also adopted White Day from Japan.

The traditional 7-7 day is the once-a-year meeting of the weaving maid and the cowherd across a bridge of magpies.  It always rains on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month, since the couple are said to be crying at their reunion.  This past summer I got to visit a temple to observe the dances and sniff the incense celebrating 7-7 day.

In spite of all these modern celebrations of love, traditional Chinese love stories as far as my limited knowledge allows are rather grim.  My aunt and I spent a good chunk of the summer watching old period movies from Hong Kong that my mom and her sisters watched long ago.  The love stories all end unhappily.   An emperor falls for a mistress-spy from one of his conquered kingdoms, who costs him the empire.  A fairy falls for a human and ends up forced to return to heaven alone.  The one happy story was based on a real-life artist-poet who infiltrated a household so he could woo one of the daughters and make her his wife (in real life she was his ninth wife.)  My aunt said the abundance of  sad stories is because people there love to cry at a good tragedy.

So people in Taiwan have three days to either feel bitter, depressed, and lonely, or nervous, warm and fuzzy.

Whether you’re in a cosy couple or single and free, I hope you had a lovely Valentine’s Day with chocolate on top.

7-7 day Chinese poem (scroll down for the English translation).


By Anping

Puppets and lions for sale…

Pigeons. Racing pigeons by setting them free far from home and seeing whose pigeon returns to the coop fastest is a fond pastime in the countryside.


Pottery– there was a make-your-own pottery shop which I found tempting.

Pottery wheels!

A dragon on the Matzu temple, outside of which were many stalls selling things.

a quick shot of the temple interior, which was heavy with incense.

Neither of the horticulture students I was with could identify this flower, which makes me think of Lorca’s handkerchiefs… For some reason I also find myself thinking of all those old movies where ladies wave their handkerchiefs to trains of men moving on to wars. It’s just such a neat shape.


On Poetry

It’s the end of April, and National Poetry Month. I’ve been reading from a number of books on Chinese poetry in translation– have to pick some up for Taiwanese poetry, too.

Here’s an opening excerpt from “Poetry Itself Is a Kind of Sunlight” by Yan Yi:

Believe me, poetry itself is a kind of sunlight
No substance has been found anywhere in the cosmos
That can break the wings of poetry.

The Red Azalea: Chinese Poetry Since the Cultural Revolution, p. 36

My paternal grandfather and great-grandfather would write poetry with their friends. My mother took out a scroll for me once, and showed me the brushed character for moon. I think there was moonlight through a window in the poem. I wish I could read their work.

Here’s a rough unfinished excerpt from mine:

I am the rice paddy, green with life,
shoots tender and sharp through the water.

I am the white crane flying
through a row’s reflection on a quest
for the fish slipping through muddy lines.

And on that note, though there is more to say, I’m going to sleep.


Reminder to self:

Dear Me…

Do not try writing intelligent lovely post filled with poetry and quotes and links at almost three in the morning and then press the back arrow while tiddling about with the code.  WordPress doesn’t remind you that you really don’t want to navigate away from the posting page when you’re venturing backwards and not onward.

I have now joined the masses of people here that swear in English (though it was a mouthed utterance to myself in an empty room)…  sigh.

Go to bed.

There’s always tomorrow.



So this isn’t just a metablog sniff:

International Poetry Web

New Poems from China: a portfolio coordinated by Zhang Er (disclaimer: I’ve had the privilege of meeting Zhang Er and hearing her Verses on Bird read in English and Chinese– didn’t understand the Chinese, but it was interesting to hear the rhythm and flow of the original next to the translation.  I found this by the accidental grace of Google).

The Drunken Boat: Contemporary Chinese Poets

Free Rice

September 2019
« Mar    

Top Posts

Top Clicks

  • None

Blog Stats

  • 112,456 hits