Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Mike's sixtieth

Last Friday night saw a big party across the Rangitoto Channel, as Waiheke Island poet laurete Mike Johnson combined his sixtieth birthday party with the launch of The Vertical Harp, a volume of translations from the work of the eighth century Chinese poet Li He. Johnson was introduced to the 'Chinese Baudelaire' by Gu Cheng, a poet who lived out the last years of his own tragic life on Waiheke Island.
Titus Books has presented Johnson's translations on generously-sized pages, and juxtaposed them with reproductions of classical Chinese calligraphy. Here's a poem that caught my eye:
the moat, blood-red, reflects a ruin
in spectacular decay
leaves that seduce the wind
are like the court girls who dance here
the hair of one of them turned white
behind drawn curtains
ten thousand pale days
locked away
As the evening wore on a succession of musical acts took the stage at Palm Beach Hall, much to the delight of an audience that had come from as far afield as Great Barrier Island:

Those hippy traditions die hard. Unfortunately, grossly excessive comsumption of Miami wine cooler prevented Jack Ross from delivering the speech he had rehearsed on his blog under the deathless title 'I like Mike'. On the last boat home a band of crack Titus Books writers stormed the top deck, which had been labelled off-limits by kill-joy Fullers ferry officials worried about an incoming gale. Here are a couple of cellphone shots from the deck:


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please post something SERIOUS!

5:23 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

and ummm, I believe the poem reads:


the moat, blood red, reflects
a palace in spectacular decay

wind-seducing leaves
mirror the gestures of palace-girls

how many spring darlings seen
from behind drawn curtains
hair whitening to dust?

ten thousand years of pale days
locked away

10:58 pm  

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