award winning Poems
It was a privilege
to judge the competition and have the opportunity to get to know a
wide range of poetry; one good reason the World Congress is worthy of
support by all practicing poets and lovers of poetry. Any poetry
competition is usually a tough one to judge but this one was harder
than most. There were many good poems, many in translation and most
ranged across an extraordinary diverse geography of space and heart.
It was the passion, the vision, the a/effect of each poem on me that
finalised my decision. It must be kept in mind, particularly by those
who did not win, that judging is a contingent process dependent on the
judge and his/her temperament, interests, tastes, etc.
that I found it hard enough to pick three finalists let alone order
them, as a result, i have avoided choosing a first, second, third by
nominating three joint winners. They are (in the order I read them):
verses by Bing Fu - A confession! Having written similar poems about
Suzhou I felt immediately drawn to this short suite of poems. However,
what makes these poems work so well was their use of new and exciting
imagery within traditional modes and themes.
Here I am,
Pablo by Ramon Cuelho - This ambitious poem gives a rock solid sense
of the passion of poetry and its gravitas situated within a world of
poetry and politics but always returning to the poetry again.
of Translation by Danny Gardner - I thought the poem moving and
apposite given the themes and intent of the World congress of Poets.
translation takes many forms, and, at various levels, communication is
translation, to steal a phrase from the poem, 'dips 'an oar [ear] into
not only to the winners but to everyone who participated. To quote the
last line of Ramon's poem, 'It matters that we sing.'
John Bennett - Judge
Five Pai Verses in
1. RED LEAVES on Mount Qixia, Jinling
It tears reds upon the autumn hills
Pursuing swallows dreamily back and forth
Further brightly the old temple appears.
2. FLOWER GIRLS at Suzhou
Drifting the accent of Wu from the soft wind
With baskets, fragrances are carried
Mushrooms, the umbrellas in rainy lane being liked.
3 BOATING on the Qinhuai RIVER
The curtain of pearls sculls into the blue
Colourfully flows the moony image of Qinhuai
Sings the stringed song so hastily. Why?
4 CROSSING the Tai LAKE NIGHTLY
E'er my dream dragged in the temple-bells’
Repeatedly I'd been awaked by the breakers' swing
O'er the sail, the fireflies are messily streaking.
5 NIGHT of THREE GEORGES
Limitlessly silent, all the hills
The moonbeam inclined, as the stars nestling the peaks
Waving her fine gauze, stands the GODDESS.
1. The ancient name of Nanjing.
2. The abbreviated name of Suzhou, from the Kingdom Wu, Chunqiu
Period, B.C. 722-481.
3. Scenic spots on the Yangtze River.
4. A peak of Woo Mountain, located at the southern bank of Woo Gorge
on the Yangtze River.
Bing Fu accepting award
from Prof. Elizabeth Webby
Here I Am Pablo
A homage to Pablo Neruda on the day of his
from my cell in 'Liberty' jail, Uruguay.
Here I am, Pablo,
here I am and I salute you
without baptismal font, without gods
inappropriate to my class
working and transparent.
Here I am, Pablo,
and I salute you
in the name
of those that couldn't
even meet you
to drink the sap
of stone everlasting,
continental and heroic,
universal and clear.
I don't have to sing my verses
to your ancient skeleton
of luminous bones
‘neath the surly night.
I don't have to sing
I want to offer my imaginary wine
to the written word, to the blood,
to the earthly and human substance,
to your legacy of stone on stone
social compromise of the humble.
Left long ago in the century
the country school and horseback
that carried me to your Cancion Desesperada
and to that Crepusculario
without covers, yellowed, bought
at a market for ten cents.
There we introduced ourselves;
you were Pablo
and I a little bud of a poet
without baptismal font,
with my rough shoes
on the map of America.
And we were two and hundreds
and thousands from the Araucania
and the Amazon,
from the Pampa and the Plata,
from Managua and Santiago
that walked through green tunnels
along ancient paths,
in circles of light and the agony
of our continent;
that you loved without season or properties.
That you simply loved.
For the blood of Ebro,
the Spring in Prague,
the rain of Temuco
and the dream of Isla Negra
your song was ever
of difficult centuries, of love
of mothers and flags and hope.
Here I am Pablo, standing straight
in the middle of my cell,
growing with your word, your poems,
and that crazy ballad, earth-sourced, mineral
and proletarian that you used to sing.
I won't let the tear
become the spring of a sad
state of anguish, of pain,
You don't deserve that.
It will leave through the window
and break the bars when night returns
Entrada a la Madera, Matilde Amor
or your Poema Veinte,
it matters not which,
it matters that we sing.
PERILS OF TRANSLATION
(For Iranian novelist Gohar Kordi)
Smallpox blinded me at three.
My neighbour's daughter,
Who could read but not understand,
Listened, as I translated back to her;
My only oar into literature's ocean.
But when my father could no longer work
He sent me out to beg.
People feel more giving, perhaps,
To a child who cannot recognise them.
Some divine missionary from the Government
Got me a place in a school for the disabled,
Where the Koran was not the only brailled text.
But now there's a different form of censorship.
To stop the authorities finding your banned books
Was a four-person mission.
One would be in the garden
Pretending to count the blades of grass,
Another would stand, polishing the door-knob,
A third would pace the hallway, stopping carpet beetles
From entering the room where the about-to-be-accused
But there were no banned books in braille.
I was still dependent on a fifth person to read to me:
There are few things more dangerous in Iran
Than reading banned books aloud.