Monday, October 24, 2011

Wind burial

Last month I had the good fortune to meet Korea's renowned poet Hwang Tong Gyu at a Red Room round table event at the Rocks in Sydney. He was introduced by the wonderful Sydney (Singapore) poet Eileen Chong who also read his poems in English.

Hwang spoke about the process of writing the seventy poems over fourteen years that make up his collection Wind Burial (1995), and how at the end of that time he was no longer afraid of death. 'The poems are linked by the motif of wind burial ... the folk tradition of leaving the corpse out in the open and allowing it to decompose and disappear gradually through exposure to the elements.'

Below are the lines from his poem 'wind burial 27' with images I collected in Newcastle.

 When I leave the world

I'll carry my two hands, two feet and mouth.

 I'll take my dim eyes too, carefully covering them with lids.

But I'd rather leave my ears,
ears keen to catch the sound of the late night rain
as it gives its arm to autumn's shoulder.

Ears that can guess the name of the autumn tree

standing in the rain only by listening
will be left.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My small heart

If I could shine a light from my small heart

 bright  enough

to fill 

a house 

or  two

 or           three             or             four                                            

  maybe then

 I wouldn't be


 so afraid

to invite you in

Sparkes St Lantern Party, Newcastle, Sept, 2011
Lanterns made by the residents.
An initiative of Caroline McKay
Road closure supervised by Brian Joyce

Monday, September 5, 2011

Leaving Behind

Leaving behind

 my comfy four star (so it said in the brochure) bed

my windy coconut palm Mission Beach view
(it had been calm and sunny the day before)

 and the hurricane stripped, scrawny chicken neck, post Yasi, d-tree-d landscape

I enter the green tree frog, banana leaf, sugar cane town

 of Tully                   (wettest town in the whole dang country they reckon)

Where I'd been told  I was sure to encounter some

 strange characters

and great old buildings

in dire need of repair


(Imagine a photo or two of acres of blue bagged banana trees, cute sugar cane trains, toothpick chewing stop-sign-holding-walky-talky road workers,  windy roads leading up and up to the rolling hill, misty, Milla Milla wonderland, that flattens out into some not-quite-how-I-imagined-the Tablelands-to-be, paddocks and arrives in the middle of the town of Atherton)


I came across a sign

no, not this one

not this one either

it was a pretty boring looking sign that said -

China town - turn left

 and there it was ...

this fabulous Glen Murcutt, ripple iron, woolshed of a joss house temple

with its ornate carving

Chinese lettering

  frescoed walls

exquisite door handles

and out-the-back-rooms

This part intrigued me more than anything

I peered through a weatherboard crack

 and caught a glimpse of

 a yesterday

 left behind

North Qld, August, 2011
Black and white photos of signs at Houwang Temple, Atherton, North Qld.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Kintamani haiku & tanka by Annaxue Yang

In July 2011, I led 14 participants on writers retreat at Kintamani/Lake Batur, Bali. Over 6 days we followed the compass of Balinese cosmology around the lake and caldera of its magnificent volcano, Gunung Batur.

I'm delighted to present some poems from the haiku diary of one of the 14 - Annaxue Yang, with photos by yours truly.

fish farms
bathed in a silver sheen
day passes into night

clouds drift in -
the mountain
draws down its night veil

a band of sunshine
through molten black
the Gods have spilled their anger

gamelan music
resting on my ears
sweet warmth of a new day

temple flower
a colour for eight directions
mandala for all seasons

two flowers
heavy in my hand
fragrance light on the breeze

reflections around the pool
I sit writing memoirs
monitored in stone

stone carvings
wear orange sarongs
royal reminders

old roads new roads
sacred to God
a temple bell
resounds in the poet

a path
leads through the garden
of ginger and lemon blossom

coffee beans
ground to powder
delicious on the tongue

a frog
sends morse code
beside the paddy field

not yet light
a cock crows
through the mist

roosters herald the day
as pace gathers in the street
motor-bikes humming
pigeons coo to each other
a kite rocks and whirs
to and fro on the wind
a bok-bok-bok –birdsong
stuck in the soundtrack
left-over from last nights’ kecak dance
a frog singing below grass level
a straw broom swishes above
this village morning

Annaxue Yang

                    Yours truly reading Peter B's story to Backstage Bali writers

Kintamani, Bali July  2011
All poems (c) Annaxue Yang
Images (c) Jan Cornall except for last image (c) Glenda Yiu