The idea of poetry in music is not something new but it is something new to Kubrick Poetry. We did try reading poems in the companion of guitar causally before but never had we done it like a performance like this time. And you know what? Madeleine, the poet, Eugene, the musician, they jammed they rocked and they shined.
We dimmed the light, lightened the candles, set up the projector and the mic stand. Audience were seated. The September Kubrick Poetry began with a brief introduction of Madeleine who is so multi-talented. She is a poet, a photographer, an editor and a publisher. She is from America and has been living in Hong Kong for more than 20 years. She began to read very early and naturally because her father is a professor and there are books everywhere home. She could causally pick up a book in the toilet and read. And her poetry writing embarked when she left home and started writing letters with her family. How importance is poetry in her life? She said, “It is part of my life.” When asked to choose what she sees herself first, a poet or a photographer, she chose not to choose. Being a poet and a photographer, Madeleine’s poems exemplify the Chinese saying “pictures in poems, poems in pictures” (詩中有畫，畫中有詩). Just a few lines and she has already outlined a vivid picture. She photographs using words, such as “To Nature” and the colo(u)r series. On the other hand, her photographs are faceless and unrecognizable. “My photos are never realistic. You cannot recognize the places in the photo, like the first one in the powerpoint. When I take a photo of a person, I perhaps take a photo of the leg instead of the face.”
After the talking part, we moved to the long-awaited and the most gripping part: poetry in music. Eugene patted the drum rhythmically, then Madeleine jammed in by reading the first poem of the day “the act of walking” followed by “winter tree”. Then she read “North” without any instrumental accompaniment. Under the title “North” is a photo taken by Yank Wong(黃仁逵), one of the artists whom she respects and admires. She continued her singing of “eyes”, “cloud of sound” and “blue and wide”. For “blue and wide”, it is a poem written in remembrance of a colleague at Oxfam, Wong Yuenling (黃琬玲，1958-2008), who died of liver cancer in January 2008. Wong yuenling is a social activist and a poet. A circle of friends published her collection of poems “Think I'll Sit down and Write a Letter” (坐下來寫封信). A dear friend of Wong Yuenling, Tsui Cheong Ming (徐昌明) , read the title poem “Think I'll Sit down and Write a Letter” in Chinese and sang it along with the accompaniment of guitar. Then Madeleine read the English version translated by Jacob Wong (王慶鏘).
The climax of the day is the singing of “To Nature”. By now, everyone was into the event, into the poems and music. We relaxed, closed the eyes and let the poetry and music flow into the consciousness and unconsciousness. People come and go. Day falls and returns but nature stays.
Madeleine read her latest poem “I pay for them to touch me”, as she always does. The poem is written after a four-hand massage experience in Thailand. Then she gave each of the audience a postcard of COLORing and a poem that she likes.
Madeleine has a very touching voice and, I must say, she has a way with reading and singing. Every poem is beautiful when she reads. I guess it is the reason why she is the first one pops up in my mind when I want to try out poetry in music. The primitive idea of poetry in music meant to be reading but not singing. I only realized this when we did a little bit of “practice” in Madeleine’s home. Anyhow, it is very true that the possibility of poetry is more than we expected.
(photos by Paul Wan)