Skip to main content

Photographer: Cameron S. Ogilvi/Copyright: Cameron S. Ogilvie 2009

To mark National Poetry Month, In other Words is being guest-edited by rob mclennan. Throughout April, rob will present the work of dozens of poets he thinks deserve readers' attention, as seen through the eyes of their fellow poets.

Today: Joe Blades on Phoebe Tsang



Poet and violinist Phoebe Tsang was born in Hong Kong, educated in England and currently resides in Canada. She is the author of several chapbooks and Contents of a Mermaid's Purse (Toronto: Tightrope Books, 2009). Her artistic practices inform each other: In 2010 the Toronto Symphony Orchestra commissioned her poem Passion Dance to the music of Osvaldo Golijov, and she is the librettist for an operetta to be premiered in 2012 by the Canadian Sinfonietta, exploring the myths of huli-jing.

Story continues below advertisement

In an email to me, Tsang wrote: "August 2009 I was part of Majlis Multidisciplinary Arts [Figure of Speech series in Toronto]and was involved in creating-performing in a 3-person physical-theatre piece where I improvised, acted, played violin, danced tango and read poetry - sometimes at the same time. That was fun!"

Tsang's poetry can be found in the anthologies Garden Variety (Quattro Books) and Not a Muse (Haven Books). International journal credits include Atlas 02 (India & UK); Asia Literary Review (Hong Kong); Room, Freefall and On Spec (all Canada). She holds a BSc in Architecture from the University of London (UK).

This month Tsang will be in New Brunswick performing with the Saint John String Quartet and giving several poetry readings.

Shalott Revisited is reprinted from her poetry collection Contents of a Mermaid's Purse. The book, according to a recent Vancouver event's media release, is an "existential exploration of love and mortality via fairytales and nature." Rich with shades of fable, the wonder of the quest, urban myth, and the storytelling of legends, blended together with hints of surrealism throughout, the narratives of these mostly lyrical poems and prose poems will hold your attention breathless.



Shalott Revisited



This year the animals did not sleep as if fall, and the dying of the trees, never ended. Already squirrels have plundered spring's store of sexless buds.



The branches are crooked looms warped and idle with no skeins of green left to weave their velvet sheaths and silken sap.

Story continues below advertisement



Lambs will be born again bearing their fleece but there's no grass for them to graze; the riverbed's a no-man's trench strewn



with the husks of abandoned boats bleached to their bones by a sun that will not hide its angry eye day or night because the earth no longer spins.



The dreamer emerges from the tower, her thousand-storied chrysalis, into a mirror-world blank as a blind man's palette, starved of winter's white.

Report an error
Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.