A Video Response to Li Qingzhao’s “Nostalgia for Fluting on the Phoenix Terrace”

 

Will Slack visited from Boston and we took the opportunity to record him reading Li Qingzhao’s  “Nostalgia for Fluting on the Phoenix Terrace” in the original Chinese and my response to it. Recorded at the Montreal Botanical Gardens.

The birds
The little birds
The little brown birds
The little brown birds
Sing wordless songs at dawn

The tree
The locust tree
The flowering locust tree
The flowering locust tree
Caressed all day by honeybees

The Moon
The Moon and Mars
The Moon and Mars—white and red
The Moon and Mars—white and red
Waltz through the midnight skies

Each day I rise
Each day I make the bed
Each day I listen to wordless songs
Watch the blossoms get caressed
Try to sleep with the Moon and Mars
Together waltzing through midnight stars

And I think at least the wind will blow
And the world will spin all of this away
Like you who would not stay
You who refuses to be seen
Not even in my dreams
Because if you could disappear
If you will not be here
Why should they persist?

The birds
The little birds
The little brown birds

AGG20140610

Depth charge: Li Qingzhao’s poem about separation from a loved one may have been the original impetus for this poem, but in the end it was a line from a Carter Family song Darling Little Joe: “Thelittle brown birds around the door,” that provided the key. I also found inspiration in Skeeter Davis’ The End of the World and, finally, by commenting on the locust tree outside my wind and being challenged by a friend to turn it into a poem.

Tune: “Nostalgia for Fluting on the Phoenix Terrace”
Separation
by Li Qingzhao

No more incense smoke from the gilt lion burner;
Quilts in the bed: a riot of crimson waves.
A night of unrestful sleep,
And I am in no mood to comb my hair,
Heedless that my jewelled toilet-set is covered with dust,
And the morning sun peeping above the curtain-hooks.
A jumble of parting thoughts,
Yet I hesitate on the verge of utterance
For fear of bitterness.
Of late I’ve been growing thin,
Not that I over-drink myself,
Nor from lament for the autumn.

Finished! Finished!
Ten thousand Songs of Farewell① failed to detain
The loved one-now gone f a r away
To Wu Ling Peach Blossom Springs. ②
Here in this mist-locked chamber
I sit brooding t h e livelong day,
With only the limpid stream showing me sympathy
As it glides quietly past the terrace.
A fresh wave of regret floods my heart
Where I gaze.

①  An allusion to a poem written by Wang Wei of the Tang Dynasty (618-907) to see off a friend, which in later generations came to be widely used as a song of farewell, with its last line
“West of Yang Guan you’ll have no more old friends ” sung as a refrain. Yang Guan was an ancient pass in present-day Gansu province.

②  The poet compares her husband to the fisherman who sojourned in the Land of Peach Blossom Springs in Tao Yuanming’s Utopian essay.

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

李清照凤凰台上忆吹箫
香冷金猊,被翻红浪,起来慵自梳头。任宝奁尘满,日上帘钩。生怕离怀别苦,多少事、欲说还休。新来瘦,非干病酒,不是悲秋。
休休,这回去也,千万遍《阳关》,也则难留。念武陵人远,烟锁秦楼。唯有楼前流水,应念我、终日凝眸。凝眸处,从今更添,一段新愁。

李清照鳳凰台上憶吹簫
香冷金猊,被翻紅浪,起來慵自梳頭。任寶奩塵滿,日上簾鉤。生怕離懷別苦,多少事、欲說還休。新來瘦,非干病酒,不是悲秋。
休休,這回去也,千萬遍《陽關》,也則難留。念武陵人遠,煙鎖秦樓。唯有樓前流水,應念我、終日凝眸。凝眸處,從今更添,一段新愁。

Lǐqīngzhào fènghuáng tái shàng yì chuī xiāo
Xiāng lěng jīn ní, bèi fān hóng làng, qǐlái yōng zì shūtóu. Rènbǎolián chén mǎn, rì shàng lián gōu. Shēngpà lí huái bié kǔ, duōshǎo shì, yù shuō hái xiū. Xīn lái shòu, fēi gàn bìng jiǔ, bùshì bēi qiū.
Xiū xiū, zhè huíqù yě, qiān wàn biàn “yáng guān”, yě zé nán liú . Niàn wǔlíng rén yuǎn, yān suǒ qín lóu. Wéiyǒu lóu qián liúshuǐ, yīng niàn wǒ, zhōngrì níngmóu. Níngmóu chù, cóng jīn gèng tiān, yīduàn xīn chóu.

Here is all the ci/词 and responses to it on this blog.

To read Songs about Sex, Death & Cicadas by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

To read  as close as the clouds by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the linke and select “Save link as…”

To read the chapbook Happy Birthday Hanafuda by Andrew Grimes Griffin just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

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How to Pirouette on a Little Piece of Queer

Harry Giles asked the panel
How they deal
With being the token piece of queer
When allowed to speak
By the mainstream
When the well-meaning feign
Love
While they do everything
They can still
To kill

You
Own it
Said Anne-Marie MacDonald
Use your toe-hold to maintain
Poise
To get the lay of the land
Listen carefully to see
If you are among friends
Enemies or chameleons
Use good manners
These at least will keep us
For stabbing each other in the eye
With our forks

Nick Comilla said this was a challenge
He had yet to face
As he operates
Within chosen confines
Of the sub-culture
Growing
Strong

Sometimes said Kai Cheng Thom
You should stab them
In the fucking eye
With your fork
Toss a grenade onto
The unceded territory
Blow it the fuck up

And pirouette away

AGG20170429

Depth Charge: This piece of re-poet-age, and the license that implies, sprang from The Violet Hour panel held this morning as part of Blue Metropolis.
https://www.facebook.com/events/1909921899241831/

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To read  as close as the clouds by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the linke and select “Save link as…”
To read the chapbook Happy Birthday Hanafuda by Andrew Grimes Griffinjust click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

The Prophylaxis of Humour

“I am not a bitchy old fag, I am a sad old faggot,” said Sky Gilbert at The Violet Hour reading at Stock Bar in Montreal’s gay village last night.

He had just read two hilarious excerpts from his new book Sad Old Faggot, one about his penis and the other about his asshole, and was introducing a third excerpt about his complicated relationship with other older gay men.

Unlike the other man he was describing, he did not want young gay men to respect him, or acknowledge his history, so he was free from bitterness. He would be happy enough if they would just fuck him.

Listening to, and laughing with, him, I could relate on one level—the strange new territory of growing old—but not on another, because I have found my late forties and fifties to be incredibly rewarding on a personal and sexual level.

Earlier in the evening, Kai Cheng Thom read several blisteringly funny poems based on her experience as an Asian trans woman. I adore humour fueled by rage and she delivered her fury wrapped in cutting laughter. Her new book is a place call No Homeland, as it was sold out by the time I got to the book table, its unknown pleasures and pains still await me.

Very different in form, style and content the readings of both Sky Gilbert and Kai Cheng Thom shared a use of humour that was both defensive and offensive, a ward against future pain and a balm on personal history, post- and pre- exposure prophylaxis, if you will.

Rachel Amey, Peter Dubé, Harry Giles and Catherine Hernandez all read as well, making for a truly remarkable evening.

The Violet Hour is becoming a true treasure.

For the details on the next event on May 23 , check out: https://www.facebook.com/events/1560113084081981/

guoande seal script jpegTo read Songs about Sex, Death & Cicadas by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”
To read  as close as the clouds by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the linke and select “Save link as…”
To read the chapbook Happy Birthday Hanafuda by Andrew Grimes Griffinjust click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

Haiku (Variations)

Snow laces the trees
While ice binds the city streets
To a quiet crawl

Soft snow laces trees
Up—hard ice ties city streets
Down—everywhere hushed

Up above—laced trees
Down below—calm ice-bound streets
Between—peaceful walk

AGG20170104

guoande seal script jpegTo read Songs about Sex, Death & Cicadas by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”
To read  as close as the clouds by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the linke and select “Save link as…”
To read the chapbook Happy Birthday Hanafuda by Andrew Grimes Griffinjust click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

Translation of Li Qingzhao’s “As if in a Dream Made: Don’t You Know?”

“As if in a Dream Made: Don’t You Know?”
by Li Qingzhao

Sudden winds scatter last night’s rain showers,
Heavy sleep failed to clear my head of wine.
I ask you as you’re rolling up the blinds,
But you say the crab apple is unchanged.

Don’t you know?
Don’t you know?

By now the foliage should be thick and green
With flowers blooming delicate and red.

Translated by AGG20160506.

Depth Charge:  As part of the “Our Tears Become a Language” project, I will be doing my own translation of 64 poems by, or attributed to, Li Qingzhao.

Chinese:
李清照·如梦令
昨夜雨疏风骤,浓睡不消残酒。试问卷帘人,却道海棠依旧。
知否?知否?应是绿肥红瘦。

Pinyin:
Li Qīngzhào·rú mèng lìng
Zuóyè yǔ shū fēng zhòu, nóng shuì bùxiāo cán jiǔ. Shì wènjuàn lián rén, què dào hǎitáng yījiù. Zhī fǒu? Zhī fǒu? Yīng shì lǜféi hóng shòu.

Word-by-word:
Li Qingzhao/as(if)/dream/to make (cause) something (to happen)
Yesterday/night/rain/scattered/wind/sudden, dense(heavy)/sleep/not/dissipate/remaining/wine (alcohol). Try/ask/scroll/screen/person, however/say/wild plum (海棠)/to be aware/as/before.
Know/or not? Know/or not?/Ought to/green/fat/red/thin.

Here is an earlier version of this poem.
guoande seal script jpegTo read Songs about Sex, Death & Cicadas by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”
To read  as close as the clouds by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the linke and select “Save link as…”
To read the chapbook Happy Birthday Hanafuda by Andrew Grimes Griffin just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

55th Birthday: A Response to Li Qingzhao’s “Long-lived Happiness (Nanchang Birthday)”

Another ride on the rock
Round the dying fireball
That makes fifty-five
I awake to March snowfall
The offer of a fresh start

Then the Grindr Hey!
It’s still dark when you arrive
Beautiful black hair
Brown eyes smooth skin and hard cock
Full of human need

For intimacy
Sexual complicity
That soft hard power
Men ready willing able
Together we manifest

Getting up a second time
New snow already almost gone
I pull the curtains
Open the sunlight dazzles
Your naked body

You appeared out of
The night disappear into
The day like the dreams
I felt move you in your sleep
Amazed within my tight arms

AGG20160318
For A

长寿乐 (南昌生日) 李清照

微寒应候,望日边六叶,阶蓂初秀。爱景欲挂扶桑,漏残银箭,杓回摇斗。庆高闳此际,掌上一颗明珠剖。有令容淑质,归逢佳偶。到如今,昼锦满堂贵胄。 荣耀,文步紫禁,一一金章绿绶。更值棠棣连阴,虎符熊轼,夹河分守。况青云咫尺,朝暮重入承明后。看彩衣争献、兰羞玉酎。祝千龄,借指松椿比寿。

Chángshòu Lè (Nánchāng Shēngrì) Lǐ Qīngzhào

wēi hán yīng hòu, wàng rì biān liù yè, jiē míng chū xiù. Ài jǐng yù guà fúsāng , lòu cán yín jiàn, biāo huí yáo dòu . Qìng gāo hóng cǐ jì, zhǎngshàng yī kē míngzhū pōu. Yǒu lìng róng shū zhì, guī féng jiā’ǒu. Dào rújīn, zhòu jǐn mǎntáng guìzhòu . Róngyào, wén bù zǐ jìn , yīyī jīn zhānglǜshòu . Gèng zhí táng dì lián yīn , hǔfú xióng shì , jiā hé fèn shǒu . Kuàng qīngyún zhǐchǐ , zhāo mù zhòng rù chéng míng hòu . Kàn cǎi yī zhēng xiàn , lán xiū yù zhòu . Zhùqiānlíng, jiè zhǐ sōng chūn bǐ shòu .

guoande seal script jpegTo read Songs about Sex, Death & Cicadas by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”
To read  as close as the clouds by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the linke and select “Save link as…”
To read the chapbook Happy Birthday Hanafuda by Andrew Grimes Griffin just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

Revised Response to Li Qingzhao’s “As if in a Dream: A Song”

Last night
Drifting rain showers
Sudden winds
Even these could not dispel
This long winter’s perpetual hangover

I ask as you roll up the blinds—
But you say
The ice and snow are unchanged

Then the sunlight sudden bright
Falling into your dark skin
Unsheathes every cell in my body
Up until that very moment
Dull—muffled—wrapped
Each alone enshrouded
Now raw unravelling
All the fibres of our separate being

Don’t you know?
Don’t you know?
We will be the green leaves fattening
Become the flowers slender when in bloom

AGG20160311

Original Response to Li Qingzhao’s “As if in a Dream: A Song”

Last night
Drifting rain showers,
Sudden winds,
Even these could not dispel
This winter’s hangover.

I ask as you roll up the blinds—
But you say
The ice and snow are unchanged.

Don’t you know?
Don’t you know?
The green leaves should be fattening,
The slender flowers blooming.

AGG20140406

Tune: “As in a Dream: A Song,” Two Lyrics
by Li Qingzhao

Last night, a bit of rain, gusty wind
a deep sleep did not dispel the last of the wine,
I ask the maid rolling up the blinds—
but she replies: “The crab apple is just as it was.”

Doesn’t she know?
Doesn’t she know?
The leaves should be lush and the petals frail.

Translated by Eugene Eoyang, from Sunflower Splendor: Three Thousand Years of Chinese Poetry

Simplified Chinese:

李清照·如梦令
昨夜雨疏风骤,浓睡不消残酒。试问卷帘人,却道海棠依旧。
知否?知否?应是绿肥红瘦。

Traditional Chinese:

李清照·如夢令
昨夜雨疏風驟,濃睡不消殘酒。試問卷簾人,卻道海棠依舊。
知否?知否?應是綠肥紅瘦。

Word-by-word:

Li Qīngzhào·rú mèng lìng

Zuóyè yǔ shū fēng zhòu, nóng shuì bùxiāo cán jiǔ. Shì wènjuàn lián rén, què dào hǎitáng yījiù. Zhī fǒu? Zhī fǒu? Yīng shì lǜféi hóng shòu.

Li Qingzhao/as(if)/dream/to make (cause) something (to happen)

Yesterday/night/rain/scattered/wind/sudden, dense(heavy)/sleep/not/dissipate/remaining/wine (alcohol). Try/ask/scroll/screen/person, however/say/wild plum (海棠)/to be aware/as/before.
Know/or not? Know/or not?/Ought to/green/fat/red/thin.

Here is an earlier version of this poem.
guoande seal script jpegTo read Songs about Sex, Death & Cicadas by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”
To read  as close as the clouds by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the linke and select “Save link as…”
To read the chapbook Happy Birthday Hanafuda by Andrew Grimes Griffin just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

Finally at 5 o’clock: A Response to Li Qingzhao’s “New Lotus Leaves”

Finally at 5 o’clock
In a lightly drifting snow
Alone in the woods
The world poised to fall into
Another dark night

Sometimes forgetting
Becomes a powerful form
Of self-protection
Not simple dark denial
But freeing white erasure

More ephemeral
Than gravitational waves
Your absence lifts me
Knowing the snow doesn’t fall
Rather we rise up through it

As on the day I was born
The dragon raised its horned head
From the frozen seas
Though I couldn’t see it then
Through my newly opened eyes

AGG20160219

新荷叶李清照
薄露初零,长宵共、永昼分停。绕水楼台,高耸万丈蓬瀛。芝兰为寿,相辉映、簪笏盈庭。花柔玉净,捧觞别有娉婷。
鹤瘦松青,精神与、秋月争明。德行文章,素驰日下声名。东山高蹈,虽卿相、不足为荣。安石须起,要苏天下苍生。

Xīn hé yè Lǐ Qīngzhào
báolùchū líng, zhǎng xiāo gòng, yǒng zhòu fēn tíng. Rào shuǐ lóutái, gāosǒng wànzhàng péng yíng. Zhīlán wèi shòu, xiāng huīyìng, zān hù yíng tíng. Huā róu yù jìng, pěng shāng bié yǒu pīng tíng.
Hè shòu sōngqīng, jīngshén yǔ, qiūyuè zhēng míng. Déxíng wénzhāng, sù chí rì xià shēngmíng. Dōngshān gāo dǎo, suī qīng xiāng, bùzú wéi róng. Ān shí xū qǐ, yào sū tiānxià cāngshēng.

New/lotus/leaf/Li Qingzhao
guoande seal script jpegTo read Songs about Sex, Death & Cicadas by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”
To read  as close as the clouds by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the linke and select “Save link as…”
To read the chapbook Happy Birthday Hanafuda by Andrew Grimes Griffin just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

My heart rises up: A Response to Li Qingzhao’s “Bodhisattva’s Gold Headdress”

Unde aether sidera pascit? Omnia enim debet, mortali corpore quae sunt, infinita aetas consumpse anteacta diesque. De Rerum Natura, Lucretius.
How is it that the sky feeds the stars? For infinite time and the days that are gone by must needs have devoured all things that are of mortal body.

As the slenderest of moons
Glowing falls into the west
Winter’s snow still young
Clarifies the spreading dusk
My heart rises up

Dark skies feed bright stars
Memories revive the dead
Silently shining
Back home the cold quickly fades
But faces and names linger

AGG20150111

Depth Charge: Lucretius quote translated by Cyril Bailey.

Tune: “Bodhisattva’s Gold Headdress”
Nostalgia
bu Li Qingzhao

A mild sun, a soft breeze,
The touch of a lined coat just put on:
Early springtime finds me
In a somewhat cheerful mood.
There’s a bit of chill, though, on getting up,
And the plum blossom in my hair
Has wilted.

My old home-where may it be?
There’s no forgetting about that
Unless I am drunk.
No scent left of the sandalwood incense
Lit overnight,
But the effect of wine
Is with me still.

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

菩萨蛮李清照
风柔日薄春犹早,夹衫乍著心情好。睡起觉微寒,梅花鬓上残。
故乡何处是,忘了除非醉。沉水卧时烧,香消酒未消。

Púsà mán Lǐ Qīngzhào
Fēng róu rì bó chūn yóu zǎo, jiā shān zhà zhuó xīnqíng hǎo. Shuì qǐ jué wēi hán, méihuā bìn shàng cán.
Gùxiāng hé chù shì, wàngle chúfēi zuì. Chén shuǐ wò shí shāo, xiāng xiāo jiǔ wèi xiāo.
Bodhisattva/Barbarian Li Qinzhao
Wind/soft/sun/weak/spring/still/early, layered/garment/newly/donned/heart/feeling/good. Sleep/arise/fell/small/cold, plum/blossom/hair/on/ ruined.
Ancestral/village/what/place/is, forgotten/ only when/intoxicated. Deep water [name of incense]/sleep/time/burn, fragrance/vanish/wine/not/vanish.

guoande seal script jpegTo read Songs about Sex, Death & Cicadas by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”
To read  as close as the clouds by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the linke and select “Save link as…”
To read the chapbook Happy Birthday Hanafuda by Andrew Grimes Griffin just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

Charlottetown Harbour (After A Fresh Snowfall): A Response to Li Qingzhao’s “Long-lived Happiness (Nanchang Birthday)”

The snow finally falls
A luxury of sadness
Covering another year
In the false promise
Of a blank sheet

I see in the eighty-year-old
Eyes of my father—forgetting
Does not bring calm
Only confusion and anger
Or—at best—a bone-tired resignation

This is the false peace of retreat
With no chance of victory
Some other day

The long years stretch life and memory
Thinner and thinner still
Until they are twin mirrors

The grey glass of the harbour water
Reflecting the sky clouded grey

AGG20151227

长寿乐 (南昌生日) 李清照

微寒应候,望日边六叶,阶蓂初秀。爱景欲挂扶桑,漏残银箭,杓回摇斗。庆高闳此际,掌上一颗明珠剖。有令容淑质,归逢佳偶。到如今,昼锦满堂贵胄。 荣耀,文步紫禁,一一金章绿绶。更值棠棣连阴,虎符熊轼,夹河分守。况青云咫尺,朝暮重入承明后。看彩衣争献、兰羞玉酎。祝千龄,借指松椿比寿。

Chángshòu Lè (Nánchāng Shēngrì) Lǐ Qīngzhào

wēi hán yīng hòu, wàng rì biān liù yè, jiē míng chū xiù. Ài jǐng yù guà fúsāng , lòu cán yín jiàn, biāo huí yáo dòu . Qìng gāo hóng cǐ jì, zhǎngshàng yī kē míngzhū pōu. Yǒu lìng róng shū zhì, guī féng jiā’ǒu. Dào rújīn, zhòu jǐn mǎntáng guìzhòu . Róngyào, wén bù zǐ jìn , yīyī jīn zhānglǜshòu . Gèng zhí táng dì lián yīn , hǔfú xióng shì , jiā hé fèn shǒu . Kuàng qīngyún zhǐchǐ , zhāo mù zhòng rù chéng míng hòu . Kàn cǎi yī zhēng xiàn , lán xiū yù zhòu . Zhùqiānlíng, jiè zhǐ sōng chūn bǐ shòu .

guoande seal script jpegTo read Songs about Sex, Death & Cicadas by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”
To read  as close as the clouds by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the linke and select “Save link as…”
To read the chapbook Happy Birthday Hanafuda by Andrew Grimes Griffin just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”