Shengze Haiku

silk and poetry
in the local dialect
both mean the same thing

at Shanghai airport
the bridge of rainbows connects
poets of the world

a Chinese poet
recites the famous Li Bai
playing drinking games

the sound of a drone
hovering above my head
dragonfly spy

the Chinese zither
sound of four winds in the wings
of a giant crane

polyester plant
all the workers leave at dusk
populate a town

pomegranate trees
grown at the ancient temple
remember the dead

woman at a loom
weaves the silken smiling face
of Happy Buddha

palindrome brocade
Su Hui wrote eight-inch poems
stitched in antique silk

reading the tea leaves
in the bottom of my cup
the future is green

modern miracle
how a silkworm is reborn
into a goddess

singing at midnight
a Mongolian song brings
life to centuries

Doc Drumheller: was born in Charleston, South Carolina and has lived in New Zealand for more than half his life. He has worked in award winning groups for theatre and music and has published ten collections of poetry. His poems have been translated into more than twenty languages, and he has performed in Cuba, Lithuania, Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Japan, India, China, Nicaragua, Mexico, El Salvador, USA, and widely throughout NZ. He lives in Oxford, where he edits and publishes the literary journal Catalyst. His latest collection is Election Day of the Dead, Seventy Haiku from the Americas, Cold Hub Press 2020.

Drumheller comments: 'This sequence of haiku was first published in Landfall 239, and composed during the Shengze Silk and Poetry Festival in Jiangsu County 2018, where I was honoured to be appointed as the New Zealand Director of the Silk Road Poetry Project. This festival was organised by Bei Ta, who serves the National Museum of Modern Chinese Literature as a professional poet, critic, and translator. In his speech at the opening ceremony, Bei Ta said:

"Today our Shengze has 3 happy things together: Textile Expo, Silk Culture Festival, and this Silk and Poetry Festival. The reason why I invite poets from all over China, and even all over the world to come to be present in person on the grand occasion is that I want them to appreciate and share the prosperity and beauty of my hometown.

"40 years ago, as a child, I once assisted my mother in collecting mulberry leaves and raising silk worms. I once played around grandmother’s manual spinning wheel, I once listened to sounds of spinning machines in a village factory. I did grow up in the atmosphere of silk production.

"I will learn from the silkworm in devoting its silk to make some contribution to the construction of poetry culture of my hometown. From now on, homeland will never be a distant place for me as a wanderer: from now on, poetry will never be distant from my town fellows."

'It was a joy to be able to experience Bei Ta’s hometown, and the hospitality shown by the Chinese people was truly humbling. The overall trip inspired many new poems, and created wonderful memories with my friends in Shengze, who are all like brothers, and sisters through the bond of poetry. As a board member of the International Poetry Society of Silk Road, it was an honour to also be able to present poems inspired in Shengze Town, the Town of Silk in Catalyst Volume 17, Socially Distant, featuring poetry from New Zealand, China, Hungary, Japan, France, Israel, and Malaysia.'

Poem source details >


New Zealand Electronic Poetry Centre (nzepc) author page


'Guangzhou City Haiku', Ōrongohau │Best New Zealand Poems 2018

NZ Poetry Shelf - Doc Drumheller at the 39th World Congress of Poets (WCP).

39th World Congress of Poets (WCP)

Cold Hub Press author page

Landfall 239