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

Monday, January 22, 2024

Tai Chi Master Haiku

first light
a tai chi master pushes
and pulls the breeze

Second Place, 2023 San Francisco International Competition for Haiku, Senryu, and Tanka

FYI: Judge's Commentary: I've always been fascinated by the concept of 'first light,' and here, it illuminates the tai chi master and his movements. Isn't that the impression tai chi gives to observers? It seems as if its practitioners and students are pushing and pulling the breeze.
Tai chi, a deeply meditative exercise, unfolds slowly and mindfully. Some liken it to mindfulness on wheels or meditation in motion.
The prevailing aesthetic nuance here is toriawase. Often misinterpreted as juxtaposition, Susumu Takiguchi suggests that “Combination would have been a better English word to choose, as toriawase means mixing or joining two or more things together to form a single whole.”
Consider two storytelling techniques employed by filmmakers: Mise-en-scène, meaning "to put into scene" or "staging an action," and Montage, the art of selecting, editing, and piecing together film sections to create a cohesive whole. The poet has expertly applied these techniques here, and I believe further interpretation is unnecessary. The mastery lies in the seamless execution of these elements.