Art Interests and Practices 作品
Sample Poems 诗选
Here are several sample poems written by me, followed by some comments. They represent my current poem writing practice.
在形式上我坚信 "No form, no poetry!" 的口号。然而过于严格的传统律诗不免”千篇一律“之嫌。于是许多现代诗人来了个彻底革命，滑向”篇篇无律“的另一极。于收放之间我努力取其中道。所以我博采古今中西的要素，灵活地运用到每首诗作。最终目标是”篇篇皆有律，篇篇律不一“。
Late Autumn in Karlsruhe 《深秋卡鲁》
I arrived in Karlsruhe in May 2010 and started my life in Germany. In the beginning I lived there on my own. My wife and daughter stayed in Beijing. This poem was composed about half a year later. At this time the Christmas season had barely started. As the warmth of festivity was getting warmer in the air, the feeling of homesickness unwittingly arose and was captured in the poem.
4-character verses were mostly used in very ancient Chinese poems, especially those collected in Shi Jing. Poets added more characters later to obtain more expressive power and hence more freedom. However, given the extraordinary expressive power of Chinese characters, even with just 4 characters we already had significant amount of freedom. In form this poem was apparently not trying to imitate ancient Chinese poems. Although it used 4-character verses I tried to include some modern elements, such as the refrain verse "深秋卡鲁". Also rhyme was profusely used. Unlike ancient Chinese poems, the uniform verse-end rhyme u appeared at each verse end. Besides, inner-verse rhyme and double rhyme were also prevalent.
In content the 4 stanzas of the poem were like 4 drawings hanging on the same string, embodied in the refrain (the first verse of every stanza). The first 3 drawings were of the Rhein, Marktplatz and Stadtgarten, respectively. The fourth one depicted the poet stayed alone, missing his hometown at the view of these three scenes. Therefore it added another layer to the poem. As a result the scenes and the feelings were mixed together.
Raising the Sail 《扬帆》
This poem was written for my daughter Anna's first anniversary. As a first-time father naturally I had some hope for her life, which barely started, and some thought on the way to realize that. All these could only be based on my own life experience and conception.
I used 5 metaphors in 4 stanzas. The first two stanzas were about human life. It was first compared to a journey and then mountain climbing. Life is a journey without a preset destination. In fact we can't set the destination beforehand. That's our human predicament. In other words, "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." However, life doesn't have to be capricious wandering. The mountain climbing metaphor was a necessary complement. Although one cannot determine his life path, when he looks back at his past he should see someone who stood below him. But this is an ideal, which doesn't come with birth. And this is where education should come into play. Education was the topic of the last two stanzas. The third stanza concerned the means of education. In this respect I am very traditional. I strongly believe that discipline is indispensable for education. If a child had met little frustration in childhood he surely couldn't handle frustration in adult life. If a child had experienced little hardship in childhood he would feel miserable in adult life. This brings us to the end of education, the subject of the fourth stanza. In this respect I am very modern. In my opinion the aim of education is a free individual. There seems to be a conflict between the means and end here, but that's just an illusion. Since frustration and hardship are an inevitable part of life, a person is free only if he is well prepared and can handle them at ease.
In form we also see a combination of freedom and restriction. The number of characters/syllables in the verses was generally free. But the verse-end rhymes followed strict alternating pattern.
《扬帆》借用多个隐喻表达我对艺儿的期望和我的教育理念。诗的前两节构成排比关系。它们分别用旅程和高山的隐喻阐发我对艺儿不畏艰险、勇攀高峰的人生期盼。诗的后两节构成递进关系。第三节意在表明教育的手段应该是雕刻和砥砺。正可谓”玉不琢，不成器“，正统的传统教育理念。第四节是教育的目的。在这里我的教育理念与传统分野。我认为教育的目的不是”为人上人“，而是自由的个体。这是现代的成分。因此，传统中所说的“吃尽苦中苦，方为人上人”变为“吃尽苦中苦，方为自由人”。形式方面，全诗在总体上每行的音节数很自由，而尾韵模式却很规整，为ABAB ABAB ABAB ABAB。其中有较多双声和叠韵词，以及双韵，如“顶峰”、“精成”和“清澄”，“雏鹳”和“无憾”。
The Breath of Life 《生命的气息》
During my stay in Germany, the visa application of my wife and daughter was denied at the first try. I went back to Beijing to reunite with them in March 2011. Several weeks later I flew back to Germany. When I arrived in Karlsruhe from the Frankfurt airport it's already dark. I was greeted with exuberant fresh green when I got up the next morning and looked out of the windows. At the time I left it was still winter. But now the aroma of spring filled the air.
All the main aspects of poetry were demonstrated in this poem. In form the i/ü rhyme ran through the end of all the 32 verses, evenly arranged in 8 stanzas. The generally free verses were dotted with counterpoints. The poem told a story about leaving and longing, but was dominated by the description of the spring scenes. It contained both passionate emotions and calm reflections. The breath of life was embodied in the lush green leaves, the brilliant colorful flowers, the diligently working bees, the delightedly singing birds and the joyously playing children.
The Last Red Leaf 《最后一片红叶》
My doctoral advisor's institute was originally located in KIT Campus Nord, Forschungszentrum. It was circled by a big forest. There were also many trees on the campus. When autumn came the leaves turned from green to red, offering a wonderful view. The several salient trees inside the gate provided inspiration for this poem.
The form of this poem was more Western than Chinese. It consisted of a sequence of verse-end rhymed couplets in a single stanza. But looking closer one will find that it's quite different from Western poems. On the one hand, the meter of the verses was free, unlike the iambic pentameter in the heroic couplets. On the other hand, the ie/üe rhymed couplets were regularly repeated.
Two metaphors on different layers were used in the poem. On the bottom layer human life was compared to the life cycle of a leaf. We saw four corresponding seasons in both cases. On the top layer the sprouting of new leaves in the next year was compared to rebirth. Mapped onto the bottom layer this can only be achieved in spiritual way in the human case. The sequence of verses displayed a time flow, in which I adopted some film editing techniques. It started with the current autumn scene, then was followed by recollections of spring and summer. After it came back to the present and stayed for a while, it finally moved on to the winter. As the poem changed the person from the second to the third, we saw a close-up shot was switched to a long shot. Thus the reader was forced to take a general view of the complete scene.
My Photos 《我的照片》
This poem was composed when I was sorting out photos for my book Fall in Love with Photography. While I was browsing the photos I thought about my basic understanding of photography. And from there my mind wandered farther.
The first two stanzas stood shoulder by shouder. They talked about several key aspects of photography, including light, equipment and the four main photography areas (landscape, architecture, portraiture and still life). Together they provided the foundation for further development. On top of the foundation were stacked several levels of subjects. The third stanza was about the art of photography. Specifically, it's not a direct copy of reality, but an art of selection. The fourth stanza moved from photography to history. It emphasized the role of human mind in the construction of history. At last, the fifth stanza lifted the poem to the level of ontology. It dealt with the relationship between mind and matter, existence and nothingness and the secret of the whole universe.
In form this poem was much regulated and well structured. 7-character verses consistently alternated with 8-character verses. The verse-end rhyme an ran through the whole poem. The 5 stanzas constituted a tower. We saw 2 blocks on the ground and 3 stacked on top.