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Columns by Artists and Writers

Bob Black / bq / Cem Turgay /

Fiona Smyth / Gary Michael Dault

/ Holly Lee / Kai Chan / Kamelia

Pezeshki/ Shelley Savor / Tamara

Chatterjee / Wilson Tsang / Yam Lau

+ A song is a painting is a

portrait is a prose (Holly Lee)

MONDAY ARTPOST published on Mondays. Columns by Artists and Writers. All Right Reserved. Published since 2002.

An Ocean and Pounds publication. ISSN 1918-6991. email to: mail@oceanpounds.com


Kai Chan


paper, wire

Poem a Week

Gary Michael Dault

Painters I like

I like a painter

whose fists

beat on the canvas

who cuts pigment

into slices

with a thumbnail

whose boots

are blackened with ink

who gets painted

into the spidery corners

of studio time

I like painters

perpetually seated in moonlight

always tyrannizing

their freshly laid eyes

I like painters

who refuse all help

who will piss

on a candle flame

give me a painter

who meanders like a thread

beneath the creaking

of the crepuscular sun


Holly Lee

Michael Heizer’s City

1. A city in the ocean of time


2. After 50 years, Michael Heizer has finished his “City” in the desert


3. A mammoth artwork is born: Michael Heizer’s City opens in brutal Nevada desert after 50 years




5. Archived news story from KSL.com: Huge, top-secret sculpture taking shape in desert (video



6. What Do Native Artists Think of Michael Heizer’s New Land Art Work?


… 談 笑 間 …

Yam Lau

Leaving Taichung


Bob Black

The Cemetery for the Companionless

“You can call me a thief if you like, a thief of ceremonies”--Fleur Jaeggy

red lanterns sway upon the hip of night in guard of landlords who proffer unease and damp lungs

in search of firefly and candle and those who might be, forever her, hungry in the alley sway--

pictured and scampering and aflight,

you dug in and dug upon the bone rags of the city, crepuscular and carnal from lost peace

even-tiding the long lampposts, the barking pull of the food market stall for single evenings,

wet bones twig and stretch from window’s scratch, branches just so,

the twilight calligraphy kneels down next us and softens the soil, green with cadaver and lunglost


their voices adrift, your rowing twilight

eddies and names a shoaded and spaded vein upon the hillside,

our ocean bed looking over the forlorn & foretold place, the poles of winter precarious in their


is it some graveyard singing

the chanting ocular and the disappearing gust along the rakes,

the life here in the high-browse corner of the city, our life a pandemonium of rust

the ghouls pandemic and the letters we marked red in the candlelight and our unsewed trust--

recall when your mother struck you and the sun went unglued, undiscussed.

now risen, the chaperoned evening unbuckles right, negotiated kettles of time and weeds upturned

a listing of a future nest, alright:

to rhyme the darkness with ringing, song and shell,

to grattle and grass the rattle between an elbow and the oxbow of concordant you

to rooftop the tarred city lights

to unshovel the world a kettle of ghosts, swaying and singing up barley brick

--the pail of all this going clanging against the cedar doors and slab block walls, rhyming the night


a turn of the clock and a porter held a brass box, face lock

oxidizing the stiff and the matter of the matrilineal

a pocket compass ticking the sky calendar and the city longitudinal and longing: the dead babies

the rambling cats in the dirt, the bottles tossed onto the sky, the secrets needled along the riverbank

the cacophony of oblivion tapped out in the orchestra of your heart and cobblestone feet:

there is no pronoun any longer shadowed by the lone tree

there is no pronoun any longer unkeyed

there is no pronoun any longer

there is no pronoun

there is no, any longer

behind us brevity, dissolution, cheer her at last,

the torn glove, the darkened skirt, the innervated boot and your verbs running release

an interlocking, blurrish enumerated vocabulary and we poured,

sinewy and artery and word puzzle,

all of us, some of you and a clove of me, together untackled and wettened,

poured out forever and into our some canine limitlessness--

a cemetery for the companionless.

yet their lives scribbled-up foam, a spew down from the body into a golem shaping

this inconvenient world and the alchemy and the algebra and the clocks of Middle Asia

our preternatural dipping and dampening, earth to worm and soil to ephemeral,

the divesting and the marriage of all we know and would become, swarming our-ward

you and I and all the rest, bedfellows and heaven’s crew, and ocean wrek

the outbreak of us downing and coming alive long after our bones and sinews into the sable

the indeterminate eternal sea.

for: Holly and Ka-sing Lee

The Photograph

coordinated by

Kamelia Pezeshki

Snowy Owl Hover, 2016 by Wendi Schneider

pigment ink on vellum over white gold leaf from the ’States of Grace’ series


bq 不 清

話 到 嘴 邊


那 唯 一 一 次 沒 有 變

成 欠 缺 水 仙 花 的 蝴 蝶

你 也 決 定 了 下 贏

那 盤 海 戰 棋

That only time you turned

Into a butterfly without daffodils,

You also decided to win

That game of Battleship.

那 一 刻 , 一 切 都 在 你 的

腦 海 裡 發 生 , 然 後 落 到

紙 上 , 以 X 和 O 呈 現 ⋯⋯

一 大 堆 的 策 略

It’s all happening in your head

At that moment, then down

On paper, with the X’s and O’s…

All these strategies.

現 在 來 談 談 你 的 型 態 :

你 演 繹 臂 與 腿 的

方 式 正 像 那 種 葉 子

在 雨 中 懸 蕩 的 概 念 , 它

Now let’s talk about your form:

The way you articulate your arms

And legs is like the very notion of

Leaves dangling in the rain, which

反 映 了 我 們 對 必 然 性 謹 慎 的

寬 容 。 我 們 必 須 對 系 統

進 行 欺 詐 , 先 供 之 許 多 的

隱 喻 , 然 後 是 偽 科 學 的 數 據

Reflects our tolerance carefully

Toward certainty. We must cheat

The system by feeding it with many

Metaphors, then pseudoscientific data,

就 像 我 為 自 己 解 說 這 個 夢 的

方 式 。 它 涉 及 一 邊 捏 造 事 實

一 邊 離 開 前 往 新 的 日 出 , 而 在 那

一 個 新 的 字 詞 在 等 待

Like the way I explain this dream

To myself. It involves making stuff

Up as you move on to a new sunrise where

A new word awaits.


Fiona Smyth

From the Notebooks


Gary Michael Dault

From the Notebooks, 2010-2022

Number 158: Still Life in Time of War (November 17, 2022)


Wilson Tsang

Giant Wing


Cem Turgay

Caffeine Reveries

Shelley Savor

Festive Skating

Travelling Palm


Tamara Chatterjee

France (March, 2022) – Failure to validate

our program vouchers meant a change in

plan. Instead I wandered around enjoying

the blooming season amid the renovated

gardenscape surrounding Les Halles. I took

my time taking in the modernized plaza and

entry into the commercial centre, the vintage

construction now replaced by a glass and

metal canopy. The short interlude included

gazing at an effervescent queue, attempting

to discover their clone (Lego) figurine. ‘Twas

amusing to observe the lively expressions,

before taking off to rejoin the troupe.

Holly Lee

A song is a painting is

a portrait is a prose

(an essay)

89 • The Golden Lotus •

Footsteps of June

(selected photographs)

An excerpt from DOUBLE DOUBLE November issue 2022

A song is a painting is

a portrait is a prose

written by Holly Lee

From Barber to Agee to Evans

The first time I heard James Agee’s words were set to music, and sung by a soprano

with a beautiful voice. I didn’t know him then, and gradually get to know him a little

more. Not enough. Because of the music, the words and the poetry, I was driven to buy

his book A Death in the Family.

Agee’s rapturous prose-poem, Knoxville: Summer, 1915 was written in less than an

hour and a half, and on his revision, stayed 98 percent faithful to the original writing.

When I heard the music for the first time, I immediately fell for it. I was eager to

know, who’s the composer, who’s the lyricist, who performed it. It was Samuel Barber,

who set Agee’s Knoxville to music, and the version that I’d heard was sung by Renée

Fleming. Obviously, my knowledge in contemporary classical music is as limited as my

proficiency in 20th Century literature. But that doesn’t matter, I’ve become infatuated

by both composer and writer since.

Described as “lyric rhapsody” by Barber, he used about 1/3 of the prose-poem for

the score, conjuring up a 16-minute dramatic song for soprano and orchestra. There

is a universality of idyllic, nostalgic beauty in the work, that even for a person from

the Far East could grasp and resonate. The shortened prose set in lines was already

very impressive, but reading the original prose; I was enraptured with the free flow of

language, the meticulous observation of everyday life in amplified details, sentences

filled with humanity and purity of the heart.

On the bookshelf there is an old book I bought in the late eighties, which I rarely

touch, and remember only its approximate contents. It was about the Farm Security

Administration project; about some photographs taken by Walker Evans and text

written by James Agee—a documentation of the lives of three impoverished tenant

farmers during America’s Great Depression. I bring this up because, after some twenty

years, I finally picked up Walker Evans’s 650 pages biography and start reading. It

was from this point I remember the book “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men”, the book

I mentioned above. The book, with its photographs and text, left the world an indelible

impression on the poverty-stricken American South in the 30s. In it, I found a written

account of Agee by Evans. I was struck by its vividness and unconventional style of

writing, full of wit, beaming with life and personality. It is a “written” portrait of James

Agee. Walker Evans is not only a great photographer, he is unequivocally a brilliant


I could have ignored, and kept ignoring Agee’s prose and poetry, and Evans’s

photography, had I not been touched incidentally by Barber’s Knoxville. Music leads

to words, and words lead to imagery, which brings me back to writing. As I learn more

about Barber’s music, I’m impacted by his Adagio for Strings, which I have heard

before, but not knowing: it is one of the saddest compositions in contemporary classical


The Original Sisters to The Golden Lotus

Anita Kunz acknowledged women of significance, known or unknown, with her brush

strokes. Recently she has created a substantial body of work, bringing illustrious

females front and centre to the printed page, naming the book “Original Sisters”.

Drawing one portrait a day, the two year lockdown period gave her plenty of quiet

time to focus on this project. Most characters in the series are long gone, and some

she was only made aware of from her friends. The way she portrayed the figures relied

mainly on public sources, and images she found on the Internet—very generic, and

generalized. With her experience and well-versed skill, she deftly picked up heat and

intensity of the individuals, modified and idealized with her personal touch.

In the portrait of Anna Akhmatova, she set her against a red background, her sharp

profile characterized by the nasal bump, and a fringe. Her hair is tied back into a

soft bun, a red bead necklace hung down her shoulders stressing their roundness by

the low-cut V-shaped dress. One can almost hear Akhmatova’s line: you will hear

thunder and remember me, and think: she wanted storms. Camille Claudel is another

beguiling portrait. The overall tone of the painting clings to an earthly brown. Her head

and shoulders are elongated; her hair unkempt, raining down in rings of frenzy; her

face is like porcelain, cracked and broken like her mental state, her intelligence and

virtuosity are reflected by the delicately painted French embroidered lace. After almost

close to a century, Camille Claudel’s sculptures are widely accepted, and proclaimed

as great as Rodin’s—her once teacher, mentor, and lover.

As Kunz celebrates the achievement of distinguished women in pictures, I contemplate

on the submissive roles Chinese women have endured over the centuries, ever more

feeling the privilege of living in a better, freer world of gender and racial equality. In

1989, I was invited to work on a multi-platform art project, which had incorporated

dance, performance, drama, music and photography. It was based loosely on the

Chinese classical novel: The Golden Lotus. The novel took place in the 12th century,

and encompassed many female characters, which made me think about the three-inch

golden lotus—the synonym for the bound feet of women. I proposed to take a suite

of portraits of the artists. Not deliberately, but out of subconsciousness, many of the

portraits I took possessed strong gestural bearings of the hands and feet.

When I was asked to participate in The Golden Lotus Project, the Tiananmen Square

protests had just started in China. My approach to the portrait series of the performers

and musicians was not meant to be direct interpretation of the characters in the book,

and the six weeks of protests in China ending in bloodshed perturbed me immensely. It

reflected clearly in my portrait of the musician Peter Suart. Suart, a young English lad

born in Hong Kong, was in Beijing during the incident. He was a first-hand witness

ut left the capital before the brutal crack down. We worked together on the idea of

the shot. In the shooting session, he wore the leather trench coat he bought in Beijing,

grabbing two spiky Indonesian musical instruments acting as sharp claws; he spread

his wings and soared like an eagle. The background was an old poem, composed and

made into woodcut by Ka-sing. The poem was about free will, and choice. Tea or

coffee. My title of the work echoed these thoughts. It came to be: 89 • The Golden

Lotus • Footsteps of June (1989) 八 九 • 金 瓶 梅 • 六 月 前 後 .

taking off my wartime garments. I’m putting on my old time wear. Gently, gently, I’m

releasing and combing my long-tangled hair. Before the mirror I stare, ornamenting my

brow with gold floral print cut in pairs. Stepping outside, I’m calling to my comrades.

Shocked and startled, not even my confidant recognizes me! Oh, my companions

for twelve long years. Listen to me, and look. Some distance away, among the thick

bushes, a male rabbit scurried north; a female rabbit looked vague and lost. Both

running, dear mates, are you able to tell if this one a buck, or that one a doe?”

Buck or Doe: The Ballad of Mulan 木 蘭 辭 , a re-imagination

She became a warrior by necessity, at a time when well water could not be mixed with

river water. She was that quiet water knitting from dawn to dusk; her sole music came

from her own breathing; her loom click click and click click.

A troubled, unrest heart. How was her old father to fight? The Khan was merciless;

soldiers were just numbers, recruited fast and perished fast. She would take up the

duty, cut her hair, bind her breasts, wear her boots, and head to the market. East to get

a fine stead; west, a saddle; south, a bridle, and north a long whip. Farewell farewell

my parents. By dusk I’d be resting by the Yellow River, another dusk on the black

mountains of Mongolia. Your calling became so feeble, I couldn’t bear to hear.

Ten thousand miles she rode and battled, swept through fields and mountain passes.

The north wind blew, the gong hit at midnight. Her armour shimmered under cold,

silvery light. For ten years she fought on countless battlefields, battered bodies laid

bare, and unsettled. For ten years, she combated and survived, returned gloriously,

kneeling to meet her emperor. On his high throne he offered her praise, high rank, and

gold. All these to her, were moon in the water, flower in the mirror. All she asked for

was a good horse, accompanying her in her toilsome journey, speeding her safely back

to her village; back to home, sweet home.


In our age, most people associate Mulan as a Disney cartoon character of Asian origin,

a woman disguised as a man going to battle for his aging father. Mulan is a fictional

folk heroine from China’s Northern dynasties (Northern Wei, 386-534 AD), a time

when many famous Buddhist rock-cut cave temples were constructed at Yungang

and Longmen. Mulan is believed to be of Chinese/Xianbei ancestry (no bound feet!).

Mulan is perhaps even a tribal name, leaving the highly regarded heroine, like

many others, anonymous. But her brave deeds have survived and inspired people for

many centuries. The Ballad of Mulan is collected from oral traditions, transcribed

into written language, as a beautiful rhymed song. Though there are many English

translations of this ballad available on the Internet, I have the urge to re-imagining the

scene, and re-writing it in a prose form.

Her news of returning reached home faster than her feet. Her father, mother walked

out of the city arm-in arm. Her neighbours all came out to greet. Her sister rouged her

cheeks in rosy red; her brother whetted his knife for pigs and sheep.

Entering from east chamber door, settling on west chamber bed, she sings, “I’m

Mui Cheuk Yin 梅 卓 燕


Peter Suart 彼 得 小 話


Kung Chi Shing 龔 志 成 , Peter Suart 彼 得 小 話


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