Legitimizing the Small at Telling Tales Festival

Yesterday, my daughter (who is four) and I drove up to the Telling Tales Festival which was held at Westfield Heritage Village in Rockton, Ontario. This is a festival of books, readings, meet-the-author, and other entertainments (puppet shows, musical performances) for children.

I generally dislike attending festivals in the vicinity because they are mostly the same: food trucks (always the same food trucks), junk you can purchase at varying tents (always the same junk), live music (usually cover bands, nothing I personally would actively seek out) and banks and other institutions pushing themselves on you while they paint your child’s face.

The Telling Tales Festival, concentrating on literature and the performance of words, stands out. Yes, there were food trucks and junk, but there was much else, i.e. books overflowing for purchase and exchange, to far outweigh the redundancy of the typical just-something-to-do festival. Also, being held at Westfield Heritage Village, there was a historical learning experience always readily available. The staff, in full costume, were kept busy explaining settler customs and habits (at least the quotidian and inoffensive ones) by the constant stream of attendees.

Usually I wouldn’t write about such an excursion as I tend to focus on poetic events more closely related to my own writing practice. There were, I noticed, the Hamilton Youth Poets performing, which I unfortunately didn’t get to hear–but it was something else which I noticed as I listened to a few different authors speaking which prompted me to write this.

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While my daughter and I were able to make it to four different readings/literary performances, it was the talks/readings of Andrew Larson who read A Squiggly Story (Kids Can Press 2016) and Ted Staunton who read Harry and Clare’s Amazing Staycation (Tundra Books 2017) which encouraged me to comment here.

Both authors, as I mentioned, read one of their recently published books to a group of children and their parents, but it was the talks they gave beforehand which I found most interesting. Each author had brought along an artifact from their youth: their first book.

Both, I believe, created in school, one in elementary, and the other, if I remember correctly, later on. Both authors, promoting reading, writing, and the accessibility of the possible, presented their DIY books of youth and spoke of how they lead and related to their current careers as authors. I easily related–I also have my first book among a huge box of old journals. Stranded, by Sacha Archer (I got a B+).20170918_113558.jpg What I appreciated most was when Larson showed a simple way to make a DIY book out of a single sheet of paper, passing on the knowledge/tools to the children (and parents) to set them on their way–and the legitimization of created works which do not enter an institution, in this case, publishing.

One of my immediate thoughts was the relation to the small press communities, zine culture, and the doors such avenues open when we realize that we don’t have to rely on the acceptance of institutions to create and share important work. How many of those children who sat right before me will grow up to write? One or two might eventually build their own small presses. Sowing the seeds. Yes, this festival was different (and no banks harangued me!).

 

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A Studio, A Reading, and a Stop-Motion Film – A space you probably should visit.

Daniel Crawford has a studio. In this studio, Dan works on works he is working on. Dan’s works are works that if you see them you have an opinion. If you do not see them you cannot have an opinion and the opinion you do have, not having seen them, is irrelevant. One cannot have an opinion about everything. Having an opinion about Dan’s work is having seen Dan’s work and that it very. That is very and very.


I went up to Peterborough this past long weekend to participate in a reading at Dan Crawford’s Gallery in the Attic. It is a monthly event which he puts on and I would recommend, if you get the chance, or make the effort, to attend it in the future. At the moment in the studio-come-gallery are displayed works by Crawford, which to my mind are breath-taking, and in their shadow are a few pieces of my own, in great contrast to his work.

I have been to the studio twice, and nothing much had changed the second time I was there, so I am not completely sure about the depth of curatorial effort. Will there be other artists shown, or is it a space where one can glimpse the movement of the artist at work? It seems to be more of the latter, which is what an opened studio tends to be. Either way, Dan’s work is arresting. Watercolour and ink on paper, the great majority of it. It borders on outsider art, but keeps itself rooted in past masters such as Bosch, Bacon and Bruegel. It is chaos held together by a string. Cities of the organism, Dante on our streets. The paper is torn, and there is masses of it–and on that paper, endless detail, events of the parable that roar as if the frustrations of Babel could suddenly be heard clearly, all at once. Also, on smaller scale, one finds in the studio sculptures/ installations which are in place, often incorporating or in conversation with the stop-motion animation work that Crawford also creates. It is definitely worth a visit.

Not only is there art work in the studio, but each month there is a reading. Dan invited me up to read alongside two other poets, Elisha Rubicha (who, along with her partner, Justin, runs the Show and Tell Poetry Series in Peterborough) and Kathleen Adamson. Three is a nice number. The contrasts between we three readers was marked, and appreciated. Kathleen read her work, language ethereal and filled with light, while playing a dulcimer. Rubicha read a number of works, some of them centering on Roberta Bondar. As for myself, I read from my work Dishwashing Event, Part One, and also from Detour (finally having found its voice).

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There were two sets during the evening, and as people came and went from the studio, the readings found two different audiences, both of which were unmistakably engaged. Engaged might be the word which describes the night. Whether listening to the readings or speaking about the works on display, everyone who came into that studio was–engaged. Following both readings there was a screening of Crawford’s stop-motion short, The Mortal Flame. I present it here, from Crawford’s website,
http://www.danielcrawford.ca/

 

 

Detour, A Conceptual Path to Locate

Detour, my first full-length collection, has been published by gradient press [2017]! Yes, I am happy, of course–and perhaps a few people will read it.
Written in China, during 2013, Detour is a conceptual work, a conceptual translation, of the Dao De Jing (perhaps more commonly known in the West as the Tao Te Ching, the Wade-Giles rendering of the title). As described on the back of Detour,

Dao, in the context of the Dao De Jing, is traditionally translated as the Way. This can be understood as a path (away from paths). Here, the text of the Dao De Jing has been sent on a detour through automatic internet translators. Each section of the Dao De Jing was cumulatively translated 81 times, taking a cue from the text, which has 81 sections, displaying a fidelity to the auspicious number.

I began writing Detour as a response to modern China, its cities expanding at an enormous rate, physically, buildings constructed in the blink of an eye, often largely unpopulated, ghost ships… …a pushing forward into the current economic market… …each building a sign of political virility…  malls and shops exploding with gaudy showsSDC12621 of wealth and prestige… and amongst it all, the ancient revered, a firm grasp on the past, past poets, artists, philosophers, religions. Superstition and spiritual beliefs rampant under the neon lights neon lights neon lights…
It is much the same here in Canada. I think. The thing is, take a person out of there usual context… and they might just be able to see something. We are so often blind at home. Blind to that mundanity, out of context, which allows us to see.
Really, I just wanted to create a work that could attempt to articulate the contradiction of uber-capitalism (in China it is Socialism with ‘Special Features’, which amounts to late capitalism without voting, or really, rights, which I guess is just the logical conclusion of consumerism [consuming the self]), attempt to articulate the contradiction between the soulless and the spiritual. My answer to that desire was the deforming, or regenerating, of that ancient text, the Dao De Jing, via automatic internet translators. The texts arrive at an articulation which locates us.

Detour can be ordered through lulu.com.

Here are a couple sections from the book:

 

50

In addition, professional associations, and the killing, the common social system risk download 310 professional soldiers and 13,310 refugees only in such a system.

Her husband, and why? Have the opportunity to create employment opportunities. Scott is a healthy, friendly, and there is a plan.

Animals from the world of the body of the ambitious use of the Grand Canyon in Cape Town. This is a very natural thing, helmets and flak jackets of the friction.

It is very difficult to come to this is armoured helmets and an armored vests and helmets, and wearing a helmet, as well as armor and helmets and flak jackets and helmets is a very difficult,

It is very difficult to very difficult to find up to the challenge, clothing is very difficult to get the weapons, but it is very difficult.

Armour, clothing, apparel and helmets and bulletproof vests and armored vehicles. helmets and flak jackets continue to exist. For example, a kimono.

Wearing of helmets and bulletproof vests and armored armored it is very difficult to very difficult problems and armoured, helmets and flak jackets, but the problem is that the Land Rover helmets, and he was the focus of fashion.

helmets and flak jackets are difficult, helmets and flak jackets, clothing, and the hard drive, there are difficulties, nausea, and I have a bulletproof vests and clothing in some helmets.

helmets and flak jackets, ponchos, and it is very difficult for wearing flak jackets. As well as constraints and difficulties, and his helmet and flak jackets cloak, it is very difficult for a helmet.

Protective clothing, and the Treatment difficulties of the Armour is a very difficult task. According to the standard version.

However, in the evening, Tiger of the animals likely to be as good a cold week treatment, he/she is in your fingers in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic of all securities.

Her husband, and why? Do not kill them.

 

58

He said that an attack, the police, the political power and political disaster, and in the entire life of the raft and the river of life and manipulation and fixed.

Because of its drinking water, the political and power politics on behalf of the front, and far-reaching sense of political crisis is a very lucky. They know what it is? A good message.

For example, killed, and for the devil filled with masamochi energy company, the company is not defense, strong, and back pain, and he was using his penis nerves around his waist, and from all walks of life, reduce paper.

But knowledge is necessary, but also bright canguan opticator Yao total and bright

 

Mermaids’ Death Rattle : Kai Cheng Thom Reads

I’m tired. We’re all tired. Really, I just felt like drinking a few beers and reading and writing–or even just drinking a few beers. But, I have told myself to go to more readings, to be more present, to experience more writers and to read more myself. As a result, slowly, I am achieving this.

Yesterday (which is still my today), I drove up to Welland for Poetry Takes the Nite, hosted by Taylor Peebles at the Black Sheep Lounge. It is a comfortable venue, though it doesn’t serve alcohol… …which doesn’t matter to everyone… …but I do like to have a beer or two to settle. No matter, really. A good space, a few people, decent food, and a few individuals eager to share their material. I’m not disappointed that I went.

It’s true that I tire of the confessional… …unless it is done masterfully it tends to sound like something written in high school. And it is the default. On the other hand, I appreciate the potential. And the warmth of distant bodies bewildered as myself in words.

Perhaps you think I’m an ass for not being more supportive, or for having an opinion (which I am not fully venting), and perhaps you think I am condescending saying that I appreciate the potential–but keep in mind that when I am at the readings I go to, it is mainly confessional, and within that atmosphere… …I read conceptual work to which people respond with “It was good” at best, but usually nothing at all–and I’m fine with that, or rather, I understand that. After all, we are all more equipped to respond to the confessional than we are the conceptual.

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Kai Cheng Thom

Back to the the reading at the Black Sheep Lounge… The featured reader was Kai Cheng Thom who read from her novel Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl’s Confabulous Memoir (Metonymy Press). A great reading. Definitely not a book I would usually pick up, but here it is beside me while I type.

If it is a memoir it is a memoir dressed in the most fabulous clothing, clothing that hugs and accentuates the naked body. I won’t summarize the story, you can read the book yourself. I generally dislike magical realism, but the situations within the novel are so absurd and yes, fierce… …and the deft, explosive reading of it… Well, I’m glad to have heard it, and I am happy to have a copy to dive into.

 

 

 

Title image, the dead mermaid, by Rebecca Hopple

FOUND! Poems. The arrival of Illiterature 7

An issue of illiturature, the journal of avant-garde work published by Michael e. Casteel’s micropress Puddles of Sky, is, plain and simply, an event. It is up to seven issues, and I have been honourned to be published within the pages of the last two. Number seven, which I will be looking at today, is a collection of found poems from eighteen writers and/or visual artists. Issue six was a collection of one word poems, while issue five was a masterpiece of Casteel’s editing in which the reader finds visual, asemic writing, and textual images of the contributors composed into an abstract graphic novelette.
Of the latest issue, number seven, which collects a variety of different forms and approaches to the found poem, I could comment on each piece within the covers, but will only look at a few pieces which, to my mind, present the greatest challenge to the idea of the found poem, or remark on it, succeeding in sending me further in thought than some of the pieces. And it is not all positive, which is good, as that is too often the case.
The first piece I am commenting on is the one which gives me the most trouble, the one I am least able to read. On page 25 there is a piece by the late David Fujino (January 28, 1945-May 6, 2017), which occupies the upper half of the page, and less than that. A markedly stylized lettering, very scratched, which reads, all in uppercase letters, WE BAD. I imagine I’m not the only one who on first encountering it feels at a loss at how to engage it. The grammar is incorrect, and anyway, it seems more concerned with the visual than the syntactic, yet there is nothing one can gather from the visual qualities besides the description I already gave. But there is more to the issue than the presented pieces. There are descriptions of sources and, in the case of WE BAD, process. But what kind of process can there be when it is a found poem? Fujino’s description reads,

From page 74 of “Lines” published by ee.no books, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 1990 ISBN 0-9692715-0-6. The submitted image was re-manipulated. The poem was first imagined as a street poster printed in a book format, then re-manipulated as a ‘found’ or concrete poem, then scanned. 

This description at first confuses me. Are we to assume that “Lines” is by Fujino? Without assumption, it is by anyone. He gives the reader ample information so that we can answer that. Onto google. Yes, “Lines” is by Fujino. But still, no light has been shed onto WE BAD. Reading it, not a visual piece, it is a statement. Are we bad? OK. A moral judgement. Or, bad can be taken as rebellious, or radical (in the sense of extreme, or cool). But even with this, I can engage the poem very little. Back to the description Fujino has given. It turns out that the found poem which Fujino has submitted is his own poem, which makes me curious as to how it relates to the found poem. He found his own work–and then changed it. I am now more confused than ever. To top it off, Fujino seems to equate found poetry with concrete poetry. These two categories are not mutually exclusive. The fact that Fujino encases the denomination found within single quotation marks, and not the word concrete, seems to suggest that he is more comfortable with identifying the poem as concrete. In which case, I agree. Is WE BAD a radical approach to the found poem which affirms that we can indeed rediscover ourselves, and in doing so, approach a former self as an other? Is this the WE? What is ‘found’ here?

While Fujino’s ‘found’ poem led me in circles, circles I appreciate for how lost I have become, and for the questions met on or off the path of his piece, one of Elisha May Rubacha’s (who is part of bird, buried press) contributions, very straight forward, not confusing (when her description is read), continues to hold my attention.
Rubacha’s piece reads, Found between machines, and beneath the text there is an arrow pointing right. Her description goes as thus, Note found to the left of my sock in the laundry room. The arrow had pointed at her lost sock now found (absent in the piece, significantly), the note had been left by a roommate, housemate, family member, partner or stranger in the laundry room of her house, rented or owned, or the common laundry area in an apartment building. How this piece performs pivots on Michael Casteel’s editorial choice of placement. Rubacha’s piece is placed on the left-hand page, while on the facing right-hand page is an envelope, the contents of which are a found poem by Michael e. Casteel, taken from a TV series, so, found presented in a machine, or between many machines. Read in communication with Casteel’s piece, Rubacha’s could be seen as merely an introduction–but, the gutter of the journal saves it, opens another avenue of reading, but again, this pivots on Casteel’s editing, not necessarily on the piece as an independent text. Casteel’s seems to have found Rubacha’s piece all over again. The arrow, pointing to the gutter, points to the space between pages, the space that two pages makes, points to materiality. It references, then, the process of printing, the machines Casteel’s used to produce the journal itself. Also, it suggests the search or chance encounter with material that the writer or artist has experienced to come upon a found poem. While the material has been complied, arranged and printed, between the machines of our lives, there was/is the movement of bodies in the material world that leads to encounter.

I mentioned above that on the page facing Rubacha’s piece is an envelope containing a poem contributed by Michael e. Casteel (The Last White House at the End of the Row of White Houses, Invisible Publishing, 2016). The found poem is a small booklet which contains within it four images. This poem takes its title, Perchance to Dream, from the title of an animated Batman episode (the writer of which borrowed the title from Shakespeare’s Hamlet), the episode in which the images that make up the booklet were found. Here, as in Fujino’s piece, the found poem is also a concrete poem, while this time is confident within both categories. The first image finds Bruce Wayne reading a newspaper, on the pages of which are a text consisting of letters upside down, right-side up, jumbled, crammed together, rising, falling–a garbled text, to be sure. The following three images zoom in on the text and the text itself intensifies its dramatics. It is really a visual pleasure, and considered as an intentional concrete poem, in the lineage of the concrete poem, it doesn’t skip a beat. This raises some worthy questions. First of all, who created this concrete poem? Not the writer of the episode. It was the illustrator/s. And while the text arrives driven by the narrative of the episode, it is amazing to see how comfortable the concrete poem (certainly not originally presented as such) is on public television during the 90’s. It has already been digested and re-presented as a device. This leads me to think about value. If an illustrator or group of illustrators can whip up a concrete poem, while quite probably not even considering it as such, and if it can rival that which is produced seriously by current and past poets who have championed the form, the poet who tackles the concrete poem better keep in mind how ordinary it now is, more than two decades later, and how invisible it is likely to be. On the other hand it is encouraging to witness the influence of the vernacular of art forms spreading throughout culture at large (i.e. popular), that the strangest language resonates and has an effect, becomes part of the literacy of the general public, when so often is seems so ignored. The yin to that yang is an addition to W. S. Burrough’s famous line: The word is image and the image is virus… and the virus is quotidian.

 

Note: I had mistakenly attributed a poem to Gary Barwin which was in fact by Michael e. Casteel. This had been corrected.

Fan Wu & Fan Wu

Type into google the name Fan Wu and you are, at present, presented with an image of a woman, well dressed, of whom we are told was born in China and is a Chinese-American novelist. I have never read Fan Wu, and perhaps never will. On the other hand, I have read Fan Wu. In fact, I met him a few nights ago at the monthly Hamilton based reading Moon Milk where he was the featured reader. I will not describe Fan Wu, except to say he was kind and seemed a sensitive listener, which is to say something, but nearly nothing at all. If Fan Wu was an asshole I would still write, probably, this. No, if he was an asshole I would not write that he’s kind, but instead that his writing is good–very good. So, Fan Wu is not an asshole–and his writing is good–very good.

I believe it was, at the very least, a month ago, but more likely two or three months back, that I picked up a beautifully crafted chapbook entitled Hoarfrost & Solace (espresso, 2016) by one Fan Wu. While I was attracted by the quality and beauty of the publication in and of itself, it was the high recommendation from James McDonald, owner of The Printed Word book shop, that ultimately propelled me to buy the chapbook. That is what a good book shop owner can do–and does (unlike my experience today in Hunter Street Books in Peterborough, where the employee seemed oblivious to names and titles).l

Having purchased the book, I took it home and put it on a shelf. Then, when the right time presented itself, I read it. James recommends good books.

In Hoarfrost and Solace, Fan Wu translates a number of Chinese poems written by Tang poets, such as Li Bai (Li Po) and Wang Wei. But this is no ordinary translation. It is said that poetry cannot be translated, to which I would add that if much is lost from one romantic language to another, much more is lost from an Asian language into a romantic one, i.e. Chinese to English. And so, Fan Wu uses the original Chinese poems (given, in the book, in Chinese, so do your research) as a site of departure, expanding on each poem, introducing improvisation into translation–to re-present the texts, perhaps with a greater fidelity than a straight forward translation. Each of the original Tang poems are expanded into sets of three English pieces each. Not three versions, mind you–each translation comes out a triptych, to be painterly about it.

I cannot read the Chinese poems, but I was able to find more or less standard translations of each of them online which I could use as reference. In retrospect, they were unnecessary. The point is, to my mind, that, re-presented as they are in Hoarfrost and Solace, perhaps we can arrive.

Standing in the Courtyard of Tanggu Yi Zhong: Lu Xun and Einstein

Results of the 2017 Blodwyn Memorial Prize have been released! I am not a winner. I am mentioned, though, honorably, for my poem Standing in the Courtyard of Tanggu Yi Zhong: Lu Xun and Einstein. The poem was written mid 2011 while I was teaching in Tianjin, China. While I eventually taught for a private institution, I began in the public schools. Tanggu Yi Zhong, mentioned in the title of the poem, was a high school around the corner from my apartment, and the poem focuses on that location and the surrounding area. Also in the title, two figures are mentioned. Einstein, of course, needs no introduction, while Lu Xun is likely almost completely unknown to Western readers. Excerpted from a brief biography of Lu Xun on Columbia University’s Asia for Educators website,

Lu Xun (or Lu Hsun, pronounced “Lu Shun”; 1881-1936) has been considered China’s greatest modern writer for most of the 20th century. Many of the other authors of fictional works of social criticism popular during the 1920s and 1930s have been at least partially discredited or criticized during the various political movements in China since 1949, but Lu Xun’s reputation has remained consistently distinguished. Mao Zedong (1893-1976) called him “commander of China’s cultural revolution.”

Perhaps it was because Lu Xun died relatively early in the Communist movement that he has not been criticized for making the kinds of political “errors” for which his colleagues have suffered. But the sophisticated complexity of his writing style, which lends itself to various interpretations, is also an important factor in his achievement of a position of preeminence.

I encourage you to read some of Lu Xun’s work. Here is a link to his famous story Diary of a Madman.

And here is my poem:

 

Standing in the courtyard of Tanggu Yi Zhong: Lu Xun and Einstein

I

There is Einstein.

A bending of the neck allows me to look up into the eyes of a statue of Einstein. Asking, Who is Einstein? whose answer would be Albert? And who would believe it sufficient to posit the equation E=mc2? Or just to say he was Jewish? German? Genius?

Does the scanning of a biography result in acquaintance? Does a lackadaisical spin of a globe make one worldly? Is a statue flesh? But is it presence? It is living                   memory where it is more than mineral and chisel. Just a rock: outside the conversation with the persistence of impression, could this sketch be said to be indebted to it:

  1. Though he is technically dead, the water, which nourishes the earth, is not alive.
  2. That there was ample room for God is evidence that science, far from trump (closer to trumpet,) is a brilliant facet of the imagination:
  3. Systems and equations depending on laughter and the playful rolling of the colour wheel, behind speculation, with a stick.
  4. A perceived thing will not be still—and so the field of physics is swept by the wind that carries the inaudible distortions of prayers—and a statue converses with a man.

 

II

Lu Xun stands opposite Einstein. Pursuing medicine, Lu Xun was horrified while watching a beheading caught on a red reel, and turned to the medicinal word. The Diary of a Madman revisits fragmentary entries written in a delirium in which the writer is convinced that all the villagers down to his very own brother are cannibals. We follow the progression of his growing delusion that villagers and family alike are conspiring to eat him. Did they, or did they not? What is it to be eaten?

 

III

A sociological vertigo deterritorializes the subject… causing rapidly increasing panic, cold sweats, nausea, and in some cases the urge to violently retaliate against the “over-curious.” Due to racial isolation in much of the expansive country, foreigners do in fact meet with a population both xenophobic and xenophile in turn. Extended exposure to the unyielding scrutiny of the general population can result in the development of depression, alcoholism, paranoia, and chronic isolation to name but a few possible symptoms.

 

IV

Forty actions/spectacles executed by a Caucasian living in Tanggu. The audience consists of the public who chance to be in close proximity to the events. Unlike traditional audiences the spectators come and go as they please. This is akin to a happening, the major difference being it was never intended as performance.

  1. breathing
  2. buying water
  3. walking
  4. smoking cigarette
  5. turning head right
  6. turning head left
  7. crossing street
  8. stumbling on uneven pavement
  9. scratching arm
  10. wiping sweat from forehead
  11. talking on phone
  12. sneezing
  13. sitting on bench
  14. drinking water
  15. humming
  16. biting thumbnail
  17. watching being watched
  18. reading book
  19. adjusting hat
  20. coughing
  21. throwing empty bottle in trash
  22. looking at watch
  23. picking wax from ear
  24. patting stray dog
  25. talking to stray dog
  26. yawning
  27. blinking
  28. dropping piece of paper
  29. bending down/ picking up piece of paper
  30. entering restaurant
  31. looking at menu
  32. pointing at menu
  33. waiting
  34. saying xie xie
  35. picking up chopsticks
  36. eating
  37. drinking
  38. watching TV
  39. paying
  40. leaving restaurant

 

V

Locked within the gates of Tanggu Yi Zhong: Lu Xun and Einstein, teachers and students, janitors and groundskeepers, guards. Locked out: any semblance of stranger, outsider, alien. Family needs be familiar, trusted, part.

But, it is family, as the closest communities will attest.

***

It is something very intimate, from a distance,

to grow a family in a year,

living in classrooms negotiating the amorphous

state of education. First attempt:

connection. Severed, standing behind a computer

partition as if afraid of being seen

naked against a landscape of blackboard –

forget a language, the foundational

smile might just manage a binary

transfer, reduced to information.

Beyond the idea of teacher and student,

human and human, invariably put together

with air, tissue and imagination

could never survive term or season

without the addition of friend, compassion,

and the million millisecond attributes

which, lasting, defy job description, salary and curriculum,

for a circuitous notion of we.

 

VI

 There is Einstein.

Happy there is, once and a while, light on this earth. One only ever hears of brilliance. Rolling the toxins of public transportation and congestion in my mouth, the students of Tanggu Yi Zhong in their ticking leisure volley birdies in a numberless badminton making use of no nets. Others run to run and others chase to chase, some laugh to laugh, and all breathe to breathe. Some dance to win, some cry to gain, some just walk it off – and passing me where I stand next to Einstein (flashes of blinding Nagasaki, Hiroshima) or tearing past, they call out Hello!

These are my children?

It dawns on me, belatedly: the sun is up, an aspirational direction, and the idea of family doesn’t want blood (anymore).

 

VII

Look:

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