Two great mind, at it again!!! Translated…
Ying-Ni: the topic of poetry is similar to the topic of cats to me, I can say, with clarity, that they’d, made up my whole. For instance, I’d often believed, that I’m from outer space, that no matter where I am on earth, I’d felt, out of place. Other than cats, the only thing that makes me comfortable in my own skins is: poetry. And so, I’d read the poetry, and written them too, poetry is the way of communication I have between me and the earth, and because I could keep up contact like this, I, a visitor on this earth, don’t get lost.
I’m curious as how you view poetry? Because you have a widened set of interests, and what’s weird to me is, no matter what subject matter, you’d poured your whole heart into it, even though you’d mentioned a lot of things that are more meaningful to you than poetry, but I can tell, that poetry has an irreplaceable portion in your life.
Ke-Hsiang Liu: I’m sorry, this letter, I shall reply, very slowly, stuttering on. To tell the truth, I’m somewhat regretful, for having the topic of this discussion set as poetry now. When I was younger, I’d thought, that poetry was everything. But now I’m older, it’d felt like, I’m, cheating on poetry.
Recalling back, after I’d turned forty, poetry seemed to have turned into this ugly woman, I’d no longer gotten so passionate over it, I’d lacked the creativity or the imagination to write it anymore (I hope that young poets didn’t read this).
But what’s interesting was, the time I’d wanted to write poems the most, after I’d gone to Japan and France, I’d written poems in secrecy, I’d not want to get them published, just wanted them for myself, like how I’m experiencing that very first love. Only after I’d returned back to Taiwan, when poetry became, my wife, I’d become unsettled, stressed, it seems, that poetry should not even be, related to me one bit.
As I’d gone abroad these past couple of times, I’d taken along a small notebook, mostly, for poetry writing. As I’m waiting for my flight, I’m always that kid in his early twenties.
So, writing poetry is a way, to get your youth back again, because for you, the creativity that goes into poetry writing, you can’t have just anywhere, you’d need to get out of your comfort zones to attain.
Ying-Ni: haha, I’m a bit surprised, but this was apparently, an honest answer. But I believe, that like all things that are, attractive, poetry is, boundless, something that can take an assortment of various kinds of love, even when you’d, cheated on it, it will not become destroyed. But, I’d read your poems recently, it’s for Little Lightbulb, this poetry was definitely not written by that man in his twenties, in the waiting room of an airport, right? (and, coincidentally, I’d also, written a poem for Little Lightbulb as well).
not my photo…
I’d once heard many people say, “I’d written the poems when I was younger, but later on………”, what happened later on was one in the same, tortured by reality after being baptized by the real world, can’t keep the sensitivities intact anymore, and even felt, that poetry became, outdated, and in the end, given up completely, on poetry. I’d not held an opinion for any of these people, because time would wash a lot of things away, even faith, it can also, be altered too, it’s just, after a lot of people had, given up on poetry, they can start smiling as they’d talked about it, like they’d confirmed, that poetry was, a product of youthful blues, and I, don’t agree with it one bit.
Compared to those hot-headed, hot-tempered poems written in the younger years, I’d loved those poems written by the poets as they’d aged. That sort of simple use of language, without the extravagance, contained the most precise of penetrating power, that you simply can’t write out, unless you have the life experiences, for instance, Yasushi Inoue, Meng-Dieh Chou, Borges. My favorite poets being Szymborska, and Wei-Ming Sun, their poems got better and better as they aged. Most of the ancient poets are like so too. And because I’d loved poetry of this sort, I’d gotten the courage to live to my old age, willing to believe, that as we come to our ends, there won’t just be the aging, illness, death, but there would also be other sorts of sweeter returns, like, say, a poem?
Then again, most people believed that poems should stay in the youthful years, and it’s reasoned, because there are so many elderly poets who’d written things that defamed one’s own reputations, it’s a wonder, that people are, laughing about it now.
Ke-Hsiang Liu: I’d wanted to write to Little Lightbulb, because I’m traumatized, and I can’t tell anybody about it. Only though the metaphors, the similes of poetry, as well as the limitlessness of positives, can I find my alleviation, like being absolved of one’s sins after a confession. I guess, that, is why poetry is so attractive. When someone has nowhere else to run to escape, poetry showed its healing properties. And the three, four poems I’d written these couple of years, had all come into being like this, and, I’d wanted to, keep them unknown, in the dark, to take myself to a deep place to hide in, to forget about the rest of the world.
It’s just, that that segment of time is still, way too short, for me, it’s truly, a luxury. There are so many curiosities, so many things I loved about the world, I’d become like a busy bee, getting actively involved in everything. And, poetry was, right on the opposite side of them all, it’d belonged, to that sort of a slowness that’s, slowly, disappearing.
Perhaps, it’s this sort of an awe! The poetry had become, limited to just a few, I’d believed, that it was, less and less about the privacies now, that it’s because nobody these days has the time to just sit down and read in calm. Reading and rereading over and over again, that, is a requirement for savoring poetry. But, most of the times, we’d rather spend the time, sipping a cup of coffee, than reading poetry.
Ying-Ni: stated so very well! I agree, that poetry has that magical ability of a confession, and agreed that hiding in it to forget about the rest of the world being one of the most attractive things about poetry, but, maybe because I have this notion about poetry, it’s my all, so, I’m greedy, I’d believed, that I’d needed to, chase out all its possibilities. For instance, my last published volume of poem, I’d used the X-rays of my cat that was hit by a car as the covers, the meanings are clear, I’d wanted my poems have that sort of transparency, to pass through the suitcase, and see what’s inside the core.
And because of this view I’d held over poetry, I’d done many experimentations with it, I’d wanted to turn everything I’d experienced in the world from day to day into poetry. For over a decade, my goals hadn’t changed, it’s just, that the way I go about writing had change with the coming of my age, but every time from the formation of my poems to the finishing of it, the process always made me ecstatic, I was, filled with, a ton of, joy! What’s different was, I’d not forgotten about the world, instead, I’d forgotten, myself.
not my picture still…
Of course, any experimentation has its failures, but, the poems that failed, compared to the things that failed in the world, the damages are, minimal, I’d only needed to, delete them permanently on my computer, and that, was that, but, the amount of happiness it’d given to me is, incomparable to anything else. Szymborska said, that poetry is a handrail that saved lives, Mu-Hsing said that people who enjoyed writing are hedonists, and, combining the two views, that, is my view.
So, in writing poetry, you’d found a safe place to go to, a temporary escape from your realities, and, you write from what’s inside of you, how you feel about what you’re experiencing, that, is why poetry can touch people.
Ke-Hsiang Liu: do allow me to extend from what you’d already said. There’s the least amount of damages that poems can do, with the greatest of all of the healing powers. But to tell you the truth, it wasn’t until I’m much older, did I feel this deeply, and, I’d cherished each and every completion of poem compared to when I was younger. Because of this chat on poetry I’m having with you, it’d made me, secretly, go back to examine the works I’d written these past couple of years.
Wow, nine poems, in twelve years. It’s like planting a tree in the desert. Of course, there were still, six or seven that’s half-finished, like the dried up forests. As I examined how I’d let the garden of poems go to waste, I’d felt that I was, an unfitting gardener. In the midnight hours, I’d just had a huge can of beer, and, sighed about how lazy I’d been. Spreading open the page, with my pen, and, I’d wrote a start of the poem:
Why write poems
Because I want to break up with the world
Because I recalled when I was seventeen
Wanting to complete the self that was, left, incomplete
That’s the start of it, maybe it’s still not that good, but, I’d gotten a sort of excitement. I’m like someone who’d had a stroke, and can finally, move my fingers. Hoped, that my fingers can completely be pried open, to touch each other. And, I’d hoped to keep my impulses going, and tomorrow, I’ll become, someone who’d drunk too much at night, and finally had a hangover, and, rising up early in the morn, head out with my till, to work my vegetable garden again.
So, you’d put off your poetry writing, perhaps it’s because you are too side-tracked by everything else that’s going on in life, or that you just can’t find the inspirations for you to keep on writing, so, you’d let those half-written poems lying around…
Ying-Ni: do keep on writing! Not for the sake of productivity or how good or bad your works turn out to be, but because, giving up on such a luxury, such a precious space you can hide in, is such a shame! Although I’d often felt, that working hard to live is more important than burying my head down to write poetry, but, if I can manage both at the same time, then, my life shall become, fulfilled.
You’d mentioned how you’d written twelve poems in nine years, it’d put me back to that nostalgic state of 2010, that year, I’d written, a hundred poems. And, it’s like, I’m, overcome with an obsession of sorts, at the same time, I was, calmer than ever, like a transparent icecube, as any birds, or clouds that passed me by, their truest selves were, reflected by me, where it’d been, where it’s going, and now, I still can’t forget those endless number of Chinese characters that came knocking.
From then on, I’d felt, invincible, like I could care less about death. And, even as my productivity declined later on, the status of poetry had, cooled down from the high heat, but, it’d also become, more stabilized too. No matter, poetry is my reflection, and my guide, the way I dissaturate and groom through things. Many times, after a series of trying moments, I’d finished a poem so abruptly! Back then, everything was, different, and, the fog that’s before me had finally, lifted, and, in this moment of clarity after finishing up a poem, I’m always with a grateful heart: thanking God, for giving me the gift, the gift of, poetry!
So, writing poetry became your salvation, because you feel that you can best express yourself, without expressing yourself, as that, would be the purpose of what all those metaphors, similes, along with one thing that stands for something else are. And, you’re able to, create your poetry from inside of your heart and soul, which made poetry a reflection of who you are!