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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Glenn McGrath's sixfer





Glenn McGrath holds the ball aloft after his 6 for 50. Australia bowled England out for 157 but did not enforce the follow-on despite leading by 445.

This was in the First Test Match in the 2006 Ashes series at the Gabba in Queensland.

Brilliant Aussie team goes from strength to strength.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy 80th Birthday, Frank O'Hara


FRANK O'HARA'S 80th birthday CELEBRATION!

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 29TH, 8PM
The Poetry Project at St. Marks Church
131 E. 10th St., New York City


A celebration and reading of the work of the brilliant and widely influential poet Frank O'Hara (1926-1966; author of Lunch Poems, Meditations in an Emergency, and Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara), for the purposes of honoring his 80th birthday and hearing the poems. Readers will include Bill Berkson, Ned Rorem, Tony Towle, CAConrad, Eileen Myles, Anne Waldman, Greg Fuchs, Taylor Mead, Maureen O'Hara, Patricia Spears Jones, Olivier Brossard, Bob Holman, John Yau, Kimberly Lyons, Lytle Shaw, and a number more. Co-sponsored by Poet's House and the Museum of Modern Art.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

"The water's on, honey!"

h too ohhh
lovely wet
from the tap ...

after a twoday
drought
h too ohhh

is for orgasm
is for ogoody
is for okay

Foreign Language Department triumphs
















Today in freezing cold weather, the department I work for here played soccer against the music department. We won - 7 to 1 :-) And the crowd was excited and the team and the Dean!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Confucius at Thanksgiving

Shanxi Normal University, Linfen


I was quoting the Catholic catechism as
example today, speaking of education
and the Plymouth Brethren by quoting
question and answer from fifty years ago,
‘God made me, giving me a body and a soul.’
Thirty two Chinese students laughed loudly.
‘God made the world’ drew a bigger laugh.
They were laughing at my early beliefs
so I diverted to Halloween and
hollow-faced Jack-o’-lanterns. Out
the window, five flights down, Confucius
stood among withered roses, a scroll
of analects greying in
sulphur dioxide. It would’ve been better
had he written the Clean Air Act …


This is yet another draft or version of the Food and Faith poem I posted last week. I have excised seven lines from the poem and changed 'pumpkin-faced' to 'hollow-faced' as more evocative of shallowness and empty-headedness. I am still all at sea with this poem so any feedback is welcome. I hope my comments panels are tuned in to my Chinese email address: burkeandre(at)gmail(dot)com

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Archibald Portrait Prize contender



The artist at work: Gao Xiao Peng, 26 year old artist from Shanxi Normal University.



Portrait of Jeanette Margaret Burke, in Linfen, China - 17 November 2006

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Snap: Learning & Teaching

no poem is perfect
i keep telling myself
but in a whisper
hoping i won't hear

*

her black lace bra
hangs off the ironing board
where i am sorting
Oral English exercises

we are both teaching
but she has taught me
more than i've taught her

*

english is everywhere
here shards of it
like crockery after
a Greek wedding

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Food and Faith













Mid-November One-and-a-Half Sonnet in Shanxi


I was quoting the Catholic catechism as
example today, speaking of education
and the Plymouth Brethren by quoting
question-and-answer from fifty years ago,
‘God made me, giving me a body and a soul.’
Thirty two Chinese students laughed loudly.
‘God made the world’ drew a bigger laugh.
They were laughing at my early beliefs
and I was confused. I stopped quoting and
went on to how turkeys ran wild and were
captured by Wampanoag braves and how
the Plymouth Brethren roasted turkey for
Thanksgiving, dressed with wild pumpkin.
Somehow, food is safer ground than faith.

We diverted to Halloween and
pumpkin-faced Jack-o’-lanterns. Out
the window, five flights down, Confucius
stood among withered roses, a scroll
of analects greying in
sulphur dioxide. It would’ve been better
if he had written the Clean Air Act …

Saturday, November 11, 2006

'Open Mouth' Three in Linfen


We had such a beautiful night tonight I must tell you about it.
Some three months ago we started a 'cultural evening' called Open Mouth here at Shanxi Normal University, compered and drawn together by Shabnam and others. The first night went well, with a capella singing, story telling and poetry. But the second month went a little flat as a lot of the people were away or ill with a virus which was doing the rounds, particularly with the 'foreigners' here.

Tonight was a Phoenix rising out of the ashes!

Mainly because one guy here, Tom, encouraged some members of the music department to come and play traditonal Chinese instruments - this made it a truly cultural exchange night. Very beautiful music from stringed instruments pipa and erhu and a flute which I don't know the name of. I will research all the performers names in the next coluple of days, but for now go to http://www.liufangmusic.net/samples/mp3/liufang1-05.mp3 for a wonderful version of similar music.

Here are some definitions:

Pipa (pi-pa or p'i-p'a) - four-stringed lute with 30 frets and pear-shaped body. The instrumentalist holds the pipa upright and play with five small plectra attached to each finger of the right hand. The pipa history can be dated back at least 2000 years and developed from pentatonic to full scales. This instrument has extremely wide dynamic range and remarkable expressive power.

Erhu - or Er-Hu, a two-stringed fiddle, is one of the most popular Chinese instruments in the Hu-qin family, where Hu stands for "foreign" or "the northern folk" in Chinese, and "qin" is a general name for all kinds of string instruments.

After an amazing flute music number first, Tom read two poems centred on the experience of student life on the campus. Javard, young American English teacher, then introduced his item with a potted history of hip-hop and/or rap music. Chinese uni student Daisy (her English name) translated for the many Chinese people in the crowd. Javard then launched into a very fast rendition of his own rap number. Amazing rhymes and rhythms! Jeff, American living in China for some years (and father of Sophie known to many readers of this blog) then sang a number - from Little Feat. All about a Dixie chicken and Tennesee lamb ... or somesuch :-) This is a PoMo age, folks, where culture (Kulchur to Pound) is full of diversity. Jamie, American singer of songs and a self-confessed Rebel (did I get that right?), got up next to sing... a Chinese pop song taught to him by his students. A brave man ... Then there was a beautiful rendition of a song on erhu by an equally beautiful Chinese young musician. This traditional music was followed by a young Chinese male student called Jack (English name) who sang a Chinese song about 'reunion', or 'unification'. This was followed by two young ladies playing pipa - a duet of amazing emotional depth and excitement. I then read a couple of recent poems about Manhole Covers and Teaching English History here in Linfen. Another young Chinese lady from the music department then played a pipa item of much spirit and drive.

The evening was concluded by John Jain, patriarch of the local clan, who recited a Robert Service ballad, entitled something like 'The Cremation of Sam McGee'

Ahh, a fun night in Linfen where the weather is getting cold but the hospitality hots up.

Next month's 'Open Mouth' evening is going to be held at 8pm at the Science Building, Room 802, Shanxi Normal University, on Saturday 9th December. All peoples of the province are invited to star and listen.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Jeanette at her Poota

Charles Darwin


















There is a walkway to the main teaching building at Shanxi Normal University lined with eight statues. This blog featured the wonderfully quirky Einstein statue earlier, but this Darwin statue has a different style - a harder, chiselled look.

By the way, 'Normal' in the title of a university around here means it was once a teachers' college and has now (some years ago) been ungraded.

Guardians of the Ring Dynasty

Sunny Day














China is flapping in the breeze ... to paraphrase Andrew Taylor ...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The price of things in Linfen

The price of things: 5 yuan yesterday for a man to spend two hours fixing my watch, inserting a battery, and cleaning it inside-out. 5 yuan to travel around Linfen in a taxi (granted, it is not a luxury vehicle). 1 yuan for six peanut-brittle-type biscuits. 2 yuan for a bowl of tasty noodles, including vegetables and stuff in it (meat, if you wish – but I wouldn’t if I was you!). 5 yuan for a haircut. 10 yuan for a topnotch hairstyle. But 90 yuan for a bear-shaped humidifier which broke the second time we used it. An expensive kettle (comparatively) – 60 or 70 yuan, I forget which – which leaked three days after we bought it. This experience? Priceless. 3 yuan to have your blood pressure checked.

It's currently 6 yuan to the Aussie dollar, and 8 to the USA dollar.