I’m a poet in an artist’s studio, I have accidentally bought enormous pieces of tracing paper because my Chinese is bad, I’m in a social scene complete with artists dropping by to drink tea, hangout – and out of this grounding the Speech is Code pieces grow.
In fact I began them over a year ago – I’d constructed some short stanzas, using the picture credits for conceptual artworks. They were just sketches, little fragments that perhaps had some potential.
In the studio, with paintings stacked around me, these words taken from artists feel right. Brush/inking the pieces onto tracing paper, I shorten them to four-word verses, one on each side of the tracing paper – so that the words tangle together in the eye. Then I ask one of the Chinese artists if he’d write a stanza out.
“In Chinese?” he inquires.
Seeing Chinese calligraphy being made well is akin to watching dance – I observe the makers with both joy and envy. The characters that they conjure are so exquisite, I feel I should take a Neo-Trappist vow never to make a pen mark again.