Chen-ou Liu's Translation Project: First English-Chinese Haiku and Tanka Blog

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Why Believe You Can Write Verse in English?: A Prose Poem

To write verse in English is not like growing ideograms inside your heart, reaping the sentences matured by the muse of desire, taking your clothes off with words, and exposing yourself in the rhythm of the stanzas so that you can hold your passport and cross the borders of linguistic solitudes, emigrating from the ideographic to the alphabetic.

English still remains an unmastered means of deciphering the musings of your heart and mind, and it is constantly intruded upon and twisted by inflections from the old language. Often, you are not able to connect emotions to words, to feel the weight of their syllables. Without emotional vocabulary, everything becomes elusion, confusion, and the fear of things you needn’t be afraid of.

Even if you can find the right words to reflect your feelings, you are not skilled at weaving these into sentences. They simply become isolated cries clinging desperately to your heart. Even if you can find a way to weave words together into an artistic whole, the poem too often fails to conform to the texture mandated by poetry editors. Why believe you can write verse in English, whose music is not natural to you?

Broken/Breaking English: Selected Short Poems