Monday, April 16, 2007


Though this past week has been filled with barking dogs, sleepless days, 15 page papers, torrential downpours, and cranky moods, I did have some redeeming moments. One of them was a poetry reading with accompanying music and painting at a Chinese filmfestival at which I volunteered in exchange for free tickets. I’m not that familiar with contemporary Chinese poetry, so I was surprised at how moving the experience was. The night began with some solo baritone saxophone played by Gert Anklam who has mastered the art of circular breathing. This means that he takes sax playing to a whole other level according to Jennifer (listen by clicking here). It was incredible, an unceasing rising tide of deeply resonant sound. Minutes stretched into hours.

Then the Zhou brothers strode onto the stage brandishing 15-foot bamboo paintbrushes against a bright white 20x40 foot canvas in startling splashes of Chinese black. The whole room vibrated as the music continued unabated and the sound and smell of paint filled the air. Then Bei Da, one of China’s premier poets, began filling in the edges of the sound space with his dignified lyrics of mood and light.

The canvas shook, spots of black splattered the younger Zhou’s bald pate. The 15 foot tall humanoid figure which appeared in the center of the canvas seemed to shimmer in sharp relief as the music went on: a piano and violin racing – and the sax like a Tibetan horn reverberated in successive waves. It was hard not to be present.


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