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Showing posts from August, 2015

Yoko Ono Haiku

After seeing the Yoko Ono retrospective at MoMA:


Someone
painted half a moon tonight
Yoko Ono

The Sense of Style and Haiku

WL recommended Steven Pinker's The Sense of Style. Pinker is a graceful and persuasive advocate for what he calls the classic style. To write clearly and expressively, as if showing a reader a view outside the window, or engaging a reader in a conversation of equals, one can do worse than consult this book. My one reservation is that the classic style is not the only style of value. Pinker admits as much, but he is a partisan.


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Summer sunset
fingers
smelling of oranges

Haiku

Tied to my feet
my late summer shadow
a rat runs over

Censored Again?

A Singapore news website requested a copy of my book STEEP TEA, and an email interview with me. They have now decided not to run the article because "this may not be the best time to publish an article about your book (it's elections period here)." The other reason given is that the article will not attract the kind of people who read the website. The explanation smacks of both self-censorship and dumbing-down. The journalist involved is not at fault; he has been helpful and professional throughout. I also find it hard to blame the website for caving in to political pressures to self-censor. Since the interview will not be used, I regard my answers as my own intellectual property, and so will publish them here. You will have to imagine the questions yourself, and view their absence as a sign of the censorship that Singaporean writers and artists endure. If you read my answers, you will see how innocuous they are, and therefore how afraid we are.

About Steep Tea.  1. Ques…

A History of Clocks

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Look what came in a blue starry bag in the mail. Jennifer Anne Champion's beautiful chapbook A History of Clocks, a postcard from Tel Aviv, another postcard titled "Jiak Gan Tang" for the Angmoh Singaporean, AND a poem written for me!

First, to find the blank page.
Not as some would say to confront the notebook
Recently acquired from the store.   The slate is already filled with someone else's opinion
Someone you should love a little less or perhaps
A little more?... 

Thanks, Jennifer!

Thanks, Patty!

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A lovely congratulatory note from my dear friend and colleague, Patty. It's so nice to get a real letter in the mail. She wrote from Narrowsburg, NY.




The Columbia Anthology of Japanese Essays

A stimulating selection of zuihitsu, the Japanese essay form that is, as aptly characterized by the editor Steven D. Carter, the anti-method method. Deploying a broad definition of zuihitsu, Carter includes not only the canonical such as The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon and Yoshida No Kenko's Essays in Idleness, but also haikai prose by Matsuo Basho and Natsume Seibi, and some tales of the unusual. Four qualities unite this diverse collection of prose: the writing is personal and casual, instead of formal and scholarly; the subject matter is not restricted but includes anything that occurs to the writer; the writing aims to entertain and impress; the purely fictional is excluded. The selection of works is generous also in terms of the time period covered, from the Heian period to the twentieth century. I'm particularly pleased to make the acquaintance of Motoori Norinaga (1730-1801) in "Jeweled Comb Basket"; Tachibana Nankei (1753-1805) in "Idle Chats Beneath a N…

Things about Costa de Barcelona I Will Not Forget

Things about Costa de Barcelona I Will Not Forget 

Not the taste of paella marinera but the taste of anticipation. Anchovies.

Beach that smells of cigarette ash. Men, like so many beaten up luxury boats, cruising in the lap of the Mediterranean. The water is so clear off Platja des Cavallet that I see the ghost of the fish that I ate last night.

Eight years ago, you treaded the narrow walkway around the construction scaffolding inside the Sagrada Familia. Now the nave is polished to a shine, the light streaming through the stained glass windows as if through water. It’s all too bright and clean to you. When the church is finished in ten years’ time, it will be just another church, Gaudi dead as a saint in the basement.

What chance! Meeting B and J on the train to Sitges. I first met them in Madrid a month ago, when we were standing still. Lying in an enormous bed with our new friends, in a restaurant overlooking the sea, we drank too much. Nothing happened, but a morning hard-on-and…

Steep Tea in Desperate Literature

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Guy visited Desperate Literature Bookshop, where I read from my book STEEP TEA. He took these photos. When you are in Madrid, be sure to visit this lovely bookshop and get a copy of STEEP TEA from Madrid! We're leaving for Barcelona tomorrow morning.





Things about Andalusia I Will Not Forget

Things about Andalusia I Will Not Forget 

So many palm trees, shooting up like fireworks. A courtyard of orange trees. After harvest, the sunflower stalks stand alert as otters.

The Alhambra is a mosaic of not two, not three, but four dimensions. After moving through its fountains, gardens, and palaces, I see on the way home the tessellation of leaves and the space between leaves. I see the tessellation of leaves and the time between leaves.

Riding pillion behind my host on a motorbike and slipping through the streets of Sevilla.

In Murillo’s great painting, the child gives his coin to his mother, with a look of tenderness that only a child can give, just as the towering saint gives his money to the beggar man. Outside the cathedral, one night, the guitarist waved away the coin proffered by a child. He did not want charity but to sell his compact discs.

Mecca is east-southeast but the Mosque of Córdoba faces south because its royal builder was homesick for Damascus. Representing the e…