The “Telephone” Poetry Challenge

It should be fairly well known by now, at least in these circles, that Kathy and I are huge fans of Robert Okaji and his poetry. A few days ago, our beloved poet shared a published poem of his that was written as an adaptation of a Chinese poem.

Robert O shared a Chinese to English translation of the original and his own adaptation, along with a bit of commentary on his choices. It was the commentary that inspired me. Ages ago Kathy wrote a wonderful piece about a dreary life in a dreary town which inspired me to respond with a juxtaposed bleak day in a bleak suburb. It was a fun exercise even though I’m not a poet equal talent.

Feeling an itch to do the same with Robert Okaji’s Spring Night (after Wang Wei), I challenged Kathy to a little game of ‘Telephone’ – the poetry edition.

Here’s how it works:
We have posted the literal translation below and reblogged Robert O’s adaptation (go read his poem because the game won’t make sense without it). Mine follows the reblog blurb and you’ll start to see a pattern emerge.

Kathy’s adaptation is the finale. Unless you decide to play. Reblog and add your poem to the chain or link us to your poetic response in the comments (or do both).
I’d love to see the many faces this poem can inspire.

Wang Wei starts –
Person idle osmanthus flower fall
Night quiet spring hill empty
Moon out startle hill birds
Constant call spring ravine in

Spring Night (after Wang Wei) Among falling devilwood blossoms, I lie on an empty hill this calm spring night. The moon lunges above the hill, scaring the birds, but they’re never quiet in this spring canyon. Another try at an old favorite… I consider this adaptation rather than translation, but perhaps appropriation or even remaking […]

via Spring Night (after Wang Wei) — O at the Edges

trees and birds

Tipico by t.s.wright
Languishing under the Trumpet tree
xanthous blooms drop as mambo riffs
subdued by Spring’s evening mist.

Luna slips from between the clouds
chasing tardy egrets to their
paper beds.
Rustling wings, rattling beaks,
throaty, moaning bird dreams
— tipico sonoro.



” ” by Kathy Boles-Turner
Atop this mud-bluff I wait
For May to make up its mind.
The moon drawls south, it seems, sure
To come round slow tomorrow night,
Damp or dry, serenaded by blues-song.

Now it’s your turn. Whaddaya got?

About t.s.wright

Writer, reader, casual photographer, nature-lover, dog mom. I grew up in a tree, inside a book, whispering possible futures into discarded seed pods that curled up and exploded each summer. One day, they cut down my tree and I was forced to go to school while waiting for the replacement trees to grow strong enough to hold me. But while we waited, I grew too heavy and awkward to climb, so I had to get a job. I spent my days surrounded by flimsy walls covered in carpet that made boxes and people who forgot to look out windows. I worked really hard. Possibilities were replaced with formulas and exactitude. Eventually I forgot how to climb a tree...and how to smile. Then one day, a dog licked my foot excessively and I remembered smiling. That reminded me of more things that didn't cost money and couldn't be tallied in a spreadsheet - like hugs and love and being happy. So I found myself a Steve who reminded me what home was. Then we filled it and our hearts with dogs. Eventually we planted our own tree, together. Even though I'm happy right here, right now, I remembered that we all need possibilities to dream of, so I've started writing them down.
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