Tag Archives: Tommy Tao

World Poetry Cafe Radio Show Proudly Presents Tommy Tao from Canada!

World Poetry Café  with hosts Ariadne Sawyer , Vivian Davidson, Israel Mota  and tech master: Mehdi Latifi were honoured to present the talented translator and mentor to so many : Tommy Tao.

In his own words: “For the talk on air, I can comment on my thoughts on the joys and tribulations of poetry translation, on Li Bai, and on the poetry of Florence Yeh (Chinese Candian poet who writes in classical style Chinese) whose poetry I have translated and published in the book entitled Ode to the Lotus . That book has recently been chosen by a professor at Yale University as a text book for a course on Women and Literature.

For the poem, I might as well use Li Bai’s Let Us Drink, as attached, since we are doing this one again for the WORD.” On September 29th at the Vancouver Public Library, Vancouver, BC, Canada at the Poetry Tent, 4:30-5pm. Please come out to support us, Li Bai’s poem will be read in eight languages in our World Poetry Woven Word Tapestry Poem . Li Bai lives!

E-poem by : Dream to the Ultimate Dream by Corazon Wong Canda, welcome music by: Valerie Cardill. To hear the show: CLICK HERE!

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Tommy Tao is a lawyer and writer. He has more than 30 years of voluntary service to the community. Among other things, he has served as President of the BC Chamber Orchestra Society, Vice-President of the Chinese Canadian Writers’ Association, and Trustee of the Vancouver Public Library. He received the Community Service Award in 2000 from his fellow lawyers of the BC Branch of the Canadian Bar Association.*

Tommy came to Canada in 1968 and graduated from the UBC Law School in 1981. He has been practising law in Vancouver since 1982. Since 2000, he has taken up the hobby of translating poetry from Chinese to English and vice versa, and has received the 2005 Liang Shih-Chiu Literary Award for poetry translation in Taiwan. His poetry translation has been published by the Renditions Magazine of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. In 2007, a collection of his English translation of the classical Chinese poems of Florence Chia-Ying Yeh, entitled Ode to the Lotus, was published by S.U.C.C.E.S.S. in Vancouver, BC, and the book is collected by many public libraries in the Lower Mainland of B.C. as well as university libraries in North America and China. He has done poetry reading at the Vancouver Public Library, the Richmond Public Library, and at a concert of the Vancouver Youth Symphony Orchestra at the Chan Centre of Performing Arts in May, 2011.

Let Us Drink
Li Bai (701 – 762)

Have you not seen, Huanghe’s torrent falling from heaven and rushing to sea,
          never to return?
Have you not seen, shining mirrors in mansion halls grieving for greying hair:
          silk black at dawn, snow white at dusk?
With abandon spend your joy, should life go your way.
Let not the golden chalice sit idle, staring at the moon
Heaven has given me talents. They will be put to use
Cash all spent? They will come back again.
Grill some lamb; roast some beef; have some fun!
Three hundred goblets shall be downed at once
Maestro Shen, good Danchiu, let us drink, do not stop.
Let me sing a song for you; lend me your ears, please.
Pompous ceremonies, exquisite delicacies: for these I do not care.
To be drunk forever is my wish, never more to wake.
Saints and sages through the ages: all lonely are they;
Only a good drinker is remembered by his mates
When the Prince of Chen dined at Jubilation Hall, [1]
Splendid wine, ten thousand a jug, cheered them all.
How can the host say he is out of money?
Wine for all, right away, let me order more!
My dappled stallion, my silver fox fur: tell the boy to trade them
          for the finest wine.
Let us drink then, you and I, and drown the sorrow
          of a thousand years.[2]

Translated by Tommy W.K. Tao


[1] The Prince of Chen refers to Cao Zhi (192 – 232), talented poet and son of Cao Cao, Prime Minister and subsequent King of Wei and the great villain of Chinese history and tales of the Three Kingdoms.

[2] T.S. Eliot, Collected Poems 1909-1962, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”:
               Let us go then, you and I,
            When the evening is spread out against the sky
            Like a patient etherised upon a table;


            We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
            By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
            Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

World Poetry Wins An Award For Chinese Voices from the Past, Present and Future!

Award from Richmond , 2013.

Ariadne’s notes: We would like to thank the Richmond Public Library,  the poets, participants and the great audience for this . 

World Poetry appreciates this special award and will put in on display at World Poetry Canada International Peace Festival, April 4-30th!

World Poetry Richmond Proudly Presents Chinese Voices from the Past, Present and Future.

March 9,  2013, 2-4 pm, Richmond Public Library,  100, 7000 Minoru Gate, Kwok-Chu Lee Living Room on the main floor. Richmond, BC, Canada.

Hosts: Ariadne Sawyer, MA, (co-founder of World  Poetry) and Yilin Wang. (World Poetry Youth Team Leader)

First Nations welcome.
World Poetry Welcome,  On Hearing Monk Jun from Shu Playing His Qin
Li Bai (701 – 762)  Yilin Wang, Chinese,  Elaine Woo, English  and Bong Ja , Korean. 

Learning from the past:
Tommy Tao: Ancient poetry in China . Bio and poems of Li Bai. The art of translation.

Listening to the present:
Chinese contemporary poems, song and writing.

Shirley Sue-A-Quan.

Catherine Huiqing Shi.

Jenny Tse.

Grant Hsu :

 World Poetry Woven Word Tapestry  Let Us Drink by Li Bai : Woven segments in Cantonese, Mandarin ,  Middle English, English, Tagalog, Nepali, Polish and others.
Hopes for the future: WP Youth Team Leader : Yilin Wang.

A multilingual, intercultural event.
Free all welcome.

World Poetry Proudly Presents Tommy Tao from Canada!

 

Tommy Tao, esteemed translator of Li Bai

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ariadne’s notes:

I can honestly say that without the mentorship and wisdom of Tommy Tao, the Chinese Voices from the Past, Present and Future would have never materialized.
When I was asked to create a program on Chinese Literature, my idea was to present the  Chinese voices of the past, present and future, beginning with the immortal poet Li Bai.
Tommy Tao provided the poems, guidance and support for this idea to become a reality. Thank you so much for your kindness and support, Tommy.
It is also important to present some of the many contemporary Chinese voices. There are many important poets and writers whose voices need to be heard. We need to hear the voices of the youth which represent the future. Finally, World Poetry’s ever popular signature Woven World tapestry  poem will be presented in intertwined  segments in a number of languages including Middle English to show how languages evolve over the ages. Great thanks to the World Poetry readers who translated their segments into different languages and will read them on March 9th. The Woven Word poem  will be Let’s Drink by Li Bai.
Along with the building and creation of this program, I received so much support and help. Thank you all.

World Poetry Proudly Presents Chinese Voices of the Past Present and Future, March 9, 2-4 pm at the Richond Public Library, Richmond, BC. See the poster  below for more information.

Tommy Tao is a lawyer and writer. He has 30 years of voluntary service to the community. Among other things, he has served as President of the BC Chamber Orchestra Society, Vice-President of the Chinese Canadian Writers’ Association, and Trustee of the Vancouver Public Library. He received the Community Service Award in 2000 from his fellow lawyers of the BC Branch of the Canadian Bar Association.

Tommy came to Canada in 1968 and graduated from the UBC Law School in 1981. He has been practicing law in Vancouver since 1982. Since 2000, he has taken up the hobby of translating poetry from Chinese to English and vice versa, and has received the 2005 Liang Shih-Chiu Literary Award for poetry translation in Taiwan. His poetry translation has been published by the Renditions Magazine of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. In 2007, a collection of his English translation of the classical Chinese poems of Florence Chia-Ying Yeh, entitled Ode to the Lotus, was published by S.U.C.C.E.S.S. in Vancouver, BC, and the book is collected by many public libraries in the Lower Mainland of B.C. as well as university libraries in North America and China. He has done poetry reading at the Vancouver Public Library, the Richmond Public Library, and at a concert of the Vancouver Youth Symphony Orchestra at the Chan Centre of Performing Arts in May, 2011.

On Hearing Monk Jun from Shu Playing His Qin 1

Li Bai (701 762)

The monk from Shu came down Mount Emei; 2
In his arms he carried the Green Brocade.3
With a brush of his hand he sent the waves
Of ten thousand vales of pines my way.
My heart was washed in the singing brook, 4
With the frost bell was blended its lingering note,5
Unaware that dusk o’er the jade mountain had come,
By many a fold had darkened the clouds of autumn.

Translated by Tommy W.K. Tao (C)

聽蜀僧濬彈琴

李白 (701762)

蜀僧抱綠綺,西下峨眉峰。為我一揮手,如聽萬壑松。

客心洗流水,餘響入霜鐘。不覺碧山暮,秋雲暗幾重。

Footnotes:

(1) Jun: The monk’s name in Chinese means “deep water”.
Shu: The mid-west and southwest region of China.
Qin: Pronounced “chin”. An ancient Chinese string instrument, with seven strings stretched over an oblong sound box. It is played horizontally but may be carried vertically in one’s arms. It is within the zither family of musical instruments like the now more popular Chinese zheng and the Japanese koto, but is smaller, distinctly more subtle in tone and subdued in volume, and unlike other zithers it is bridgeless.

(2) Emei: Pronounced “Urmei”. A famous mountain in the mid-west of China. There is an ancient monastery high in the mountain which is green with pines. The stone paved pathway from the monastery down the mountain goes by a brook. A small pavilion sits on a huge rock parting the flowing water. Two small bridges arch over the narrow gorge on both sides of the pavilion.

(3) Green Brocade: It was the name of the qin owned by Sima Xiangru, famous prose writer of the Western Han Dynasty. It was subsequently used to generally denote a rare qin.

(4) Singing brook: This description of the music has two levels of meaning: the figurative, referring to the actual scenery, and the allusory, referring to the legendary friendship between Bo Ya, a great qin player and composer, and Zhong Ziqi, a woodchopper who understood Bo Ya’s music. One day, Bo Ya was composing on his qin. Just when his mind was turning to the mountain, Zhong commented, “Ah, majestic as the mountain.” Just as his thought was turning to the river, Zhong declared, “Ah, singing like a brook.” When Zhong died. Bo Ya stopped playing. This is known as the tale of the “high mountain and singing brook”.

(5) Frost bell: The temple on top of the mountain would sound its bell to warn of frost.