Tuesday, March 28, 2017

“Crow on the Wire” Publishing Announcement

It’s my great pleasure to announce the publication of my most recent book of poetry, Crow on the Wire. The book is currently available for purchase along with my other books at this link on the lulu.com website, & will soon be joining the rest at Amazon.com as well as Barnes & Noble online. I’m also hoping to make them available at some local booksellers here in Portland, Oregon, but I have to admit I’m much better at writing poetry than at marketing it.

Crow on the Wire has the odd distinction of being both the longest book of poems I’ve ever written—the book is 188 pages & contains 231 poems—& also being the book written in the shortest amount of time. Ullambana in Portland was published at the end of September 2016, & I began writing the first poems for Crow on the Wire just after that. The final two poems for the book were composed on February 23, 21017—a pace that was exhilarating, unprecedented, & yes, at time even alarming. To quote the book’s Preface:

These poems were composed in a rush of inspiration between the beginning of October 2016 & late February 2017. Although I’ve been seriously engaged in writing poetry for the better part of 40 years, I’ve never before enjoyed such a fruitful period; it was a blessing overall, & I’m deeply grateful. On the other hand, as Arvo Pärt has said of music, while poetry is my “friend” & “comforter”, & indeed a source of “liberation”, it can be “also a painful thorn in flesh & soul.” Nonetheless, as I hope this book suggests, we must strive to accept the gift as given.

The poems in Crow on the Wire are very loosely based on the Chinese lüshi & jueju forms, & so are all in eight & four line lengths. Some poems double or even quadruple the eight-line form. The poems don’t rhyme—as the Chinese poems do—& there’s no way to duplicate the pitch patterns or concision of the Chinese language. But in addition to the line lengths the following formal considerations have been retained: a strict syllable count; the couplet as the primary building block; & presentation based on parallelism & a series of images.

Crow on the Wire is the first in a series of three planned books that will form a poetic journal over a 12-month span, more or less from one “mid-autumn moon” to the next. Poems from the second book have been appearing on the blog for a few weeks now, & while they retain the same form, they have changed in voice & focus as the season changes. As was the case with Crow on the Wire, not all the poems from the second book will appear on the blog.

Thanks as always for your interest in my poetry & in Robert Frost’s Banjo. Both mean a great deal to me. Finally, to quote one last time from the Preface:

The crow on the wire stands poised between earth & heaven, between the ever-present now & the ever-emerging future. The crow—pervasive in this urban landscape—plumage dark as letters on a page, forthcoming, intelligent & savvy, sociable but wary, guided by its own rules of conduct: now on the wire; now on the wing.

Dao De Jing 4

Dao De Jing 4

The Way is a vessel poured out, used but not filled.
It is an Abyss, as if the ancestor of the ten thousand things!
It blunts the sharp edge,
It unties what is tangled,
It tempers bright light,
It settles the dust.
So deep! As though it only seems to have existence.
I do not know whose son it is,
An emblem of what existed before God.

Laozi, 道德經
Translation by John Hayes
Unlike with my original poetry & poetry translations, I don’t asset a copyright claim on my translation of the Dao De Jing. It may be freely used under the terms of the Creative Commons license.

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
This is a photo of a (or part of a) Major National Historical and Cultural Site in China identified by the ID CNGD-754-055; described on Wikipedia as “A zaojing depicting a taijitu surrounded by the bagua.”
Photo by Wiki Commons user Kunwi (link to user’s page is dead), who makes the image available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Vancouver Ave Fairy-Tale Octet

cherry branches cold forged in that white streetlight:
metallic, sure, but a galvanized finish—

wrong time of the month for an 8 o’clock moon,
wrong season for twilight; crabapple’s budding

maroon though: blood pricked in a kindermärchen
promise in the last glimpse of the west’s blue eyes

before sleeping—such a long time—that other
streetlight might shine off the cedar’s highest bough

Jack Hayes
© 2017

Sunday, March 26, 2017

"Spiegel im Spiegel" – the Esmerine version

My apologies to fans of the Sunday Music feature for today’s post being so late.

We wrap up our series on Esmerine with something a bit different—their version of Arvo Pärt’s “Spiegel Im Spiegel”. It’s actually how I discovered Esmerine, & also serves as a lead-in to announce that next month we will be featuring Pärt’s music—& there are five Sundays this April. Of course five posts will scarcely even begin to introduce Pärt’s work.

Esmerine dedicated their performance of “Spiegel Im Spiegel” (which means “Mirror in Mirror”—a symbol of infinity) to their deceased friend, Lhasa de Sela. They also recorded a song titled “Snow Day for Lhasa” in his memory; this was included on their 2011 Constellation release, La Lechuza.  You can listen to a live version of that song here.

If you’ve enjoyed this series on Esmerine, please consider supporting them by purchasing their music.

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
130 - Grove Of Mirrors, Hilary Arnold Baker

Date    22 May 2010, 11:17

Photo by Rob Young from United Kingdom, who makes it available under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Celestial Fremont St Octet

half arc of the rainbow realized in one
flash curving over floating traffic signals,

vanishing back of the windowless high rise,
housewrap transfigured in sun surfacing, gold,

going down all at once, those clouds to the west
mirroring the yellow effulgence, except

rolling on, rolling on toward the blue north
counter to the one crow’s diagonal flight

Jack Hayes
© 2017

Thursday, March 23, 2017

March Evening Poetics Octet

the rain is typing letters on my shoulders
or is it poems? poor rain, a poet too—

fallen stars—but optimistic—daffodils
nod & take this all in against the stone wall—

rain’s phrases glint so fast across the pavement’s
mirror pages, there’s no way to follow—still

soul gets no break in that bamboo thicket where
syllables take shape: drizzle leaf flower love

Jack Hayes
© 2017