Tag Archives: wang ping

Musing: fires, volcanos, axe handles & cycle of children

This shelf, containing “danger on peaks” was itself dangerous and not aesthetically pleasing so now it is a garden planter box

March 13, 2022: I went to sleep last night – first night without a fire in the stove for some time – on tatami mats reading “Danger on Peaks”, dedicated to Carole, woke up as my Ryoko took little Ichiro to school, recalling Gary writing about being a 63-year-old stepdad taking a 10-year-old to school in the carpool, and thinking of myself at 10 years old on 95th Ave. in Surrey, getting ready for church the Sunday morning when Mt St Helens erupted, remembering the feeling of the unusual rumble (was not an 18 wheeler), and thinking of Gary coming down the mountain as a 13-year-old to learn that Japan was bombed and “nothing will grow there for 70 years“ and how Hiroshima is just down the road from me, indeed wonderful noodles, activists & parks.

Poured fresh French Press coffee, and picked up my robot and read Wang Ping’s remarkable recounting moments with the axe handle, with the boy-now-man (about my vintage) who the axe handle was created with, with the poet (who had been just up the road in Kyoto, probably pass through here at some point), together throwing hatchets into a stump, then into a barn (no food allowed to prevent pests, like my kura), pulling out Ezra Pound and Han Shan, pages falling open to the exact place, and marveling at the un-coincidence of it all. Such treasure.

It’s all about the cycles as Gary said to Lew. Or was that vice versa?

Also, Ichiro – a year and a half old – loves no toy more than the brush and scoop to clean the woodstove & darling Ryoko now has the skill to light the store with a single match with help from my special arts and crafts made from egg cartons, soy paraffin and sawdust learned from my mother, her ashes on the altar.

Hail the fire queens, axe carvers, and pantry mice!

Axe Handles
BY ©1983 GARY SNYDER

One afternoon the last week in April
Showing Kai how to throw a hatchet
One-half turn and it sticks in a stump.
He recalls the hatchet-head
Without a handle, in the shop
And go gets it, and wants it for his own.
A broken-off axe handle behind the door
Is long enough for a hatchet,
We cut it to length and take it
With the hatchet head
And working hatchet, to the wood block.
There I begin to shape the old handle
With the hatchet, and the phrase
First learned from Ezra Pound
Rings in my ears!
"When making an axe handle
                               the pattern is not far off."
And I say this to Kai
"Look: We'll shape the handle
By checking the handle
Of the axe we cut with—"
And he sees. And I hear it again:
It's in Lu Ji's Wên Fu, fourth century
A.D. "Essay on Literature"-—in the
Preface: "In making the handle
Of an axe
By cutting wood with an axe
The model is indeed near at hand."
My teacher Shih-hsiang Chen
Translated that and taught it years ago
And I see: Pound was an axe,
Chen was an axe, I am an axe
And my son a handle, soon
To be shaping again, model
And tool, craft of culture,
How we go on.

Gary Snyder Tribute from Library of America

The great poet Gary Snyder’s “entire” collection of published – and previously uncollected works – was recently assembled and published by the “Library of America” (realizing here I don’t really know exactly what the Library of America is but certainly recognize their distinctive cover art).

In this case, from LOA (edited by Jack Shoemaker and Anthony Hunt) comes a mighty tome of Gary Snyder, ergo:

Riprap and Cold Mountain Poems | Myths & Texts | The Back Country | Regarding Wave | Turtle Island | Axe Handles | Left Out in the Rain | from No Nature | Mountains and Rivers Without End | Danger on Peaks | This Present Moment | Uncollected Poems, Drafts, Fragments, and Translations

Anyway, to commemorate the occasion, there was a video-teleconferencing-event with various collaborators, writers, enthusiasts, naturalists, acquaintances, a noted elected official, and so on providing personal anecdotes about esteemed Mr. Snyder as well as reading a few particular favourites from his extensive canon.

For my own reference (and yours), here are a couple of screenshots from (what was the early morning in Japan) event with Gary and Poet Wang Ping who shared her wonderful story about Axe Handles which includes a real life incident involving *the* axe handle, the real kid (now adult), and the actual Ezra Pound book – whew.

Included for your edification is the video from the aforementioned Library of America YT channel. Enjoy!

(Brief) Intro to The Beat Generation #video

A rollicking rapid-fire, mixed-media introduction to The Beat Generation – made especially for youth (specifically, a 11th grade lit class at a DoD base school) – with topics including:

  • what made The Beats, the beats (ergo: time, place, circumstance, intentions, global mindset, searching for “holy”)
  • characteristics of style (freeverse, spontaneous prose, collaboration, diversity, art + craft + integrity)
  • notable writers and characters including: Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg William S. Burroughs, Gary Snyder, Neal Cassady, Lawrence Ferlinghetti
  • roots and branches extending from the Beats like: Merry Pranksters, folkies, hippies, yippies, punks, DIY and even “digital nomads”
  • riffs about censorship, “obscenity” trials, sexuality, religiosity
  • call to action about the importance everyone with something to say “saying it” – including YOU
  • plus more notable writers: Gregory Corso, Richard Brautigan, Ruth Weiss, Diane DiParma & currently working Ron Whitehead and Anne Waldman
  • namechecks and cameos for: The Clash, Tom Waits, Jello Biafra, Ken Kesey, Wang Ping, Masa Uehara, Nanao Sakaki many more…

Presented from a historic barn in provincial Japan with vinyl records, artifacts, ephemera, loads of books, postcards etc – by storymaker Dave Olson who invites you to ask questions via postcard (address included within).

Continue reading (Brief) Intro to The Beat Generation #video

Connecting Generations with Letters, Books & Ferments – Japan Cottage Musings

Pausing in the Kura barn from arranging dongles, cables, tripods – trying to upgrade tech aspect of telling stories – Dave starts with Kiana Brassest singing in the background while adding notes about decades of story making & thoughts about continuing with vigor.

Then into a recent Osera magazine cameo from a fermented foods tour (including saké, beer, cheese, wine, miso, shoyu…) in Maniwa, Okayama (which is also sorta son Ichiro’s first publication). 

oh! a curious cameo of us in Onsera magazine learning about saké making from a handsome gent in Maniwa, Okayama

Next onto recent books by post including:

“Waiting for Now” world-traveling “Scarborough dude” Ken Bole *often very* candid letters from Japan, Nigeria, Thailand, Canada etc to friends and family (with numerous coincidences and intersections with my own life).

connecting generations and traditions with letters, books, postcards and rambles

Waiting for Now” available via Blurb (part 2 available for preorder) & Check Scarborough Dudes DicknJanes pod diary etc.

“High White Notes” – David S Wills’ brand-new literary biography of Gonzo writer/journalist renegade Hunter S Thompson – available from his Beatdom publishing imprint + riffs include namechecks for Dr. HST’s book of letters “Proud Highway” and references to Joseph Conrad (re: Importance of dedication to art),  Henry Miller (re: Big Sur etc), and Jack Kerouac (re: enemy of my enemy is my friend – if he could get write about drugs and get published…)

“First Third” – beat, prankster, railroader, hero “Adonis of Denver” 50th anniversary of Neal Cassady’s partial autobiography, inscribed by his daughter Jami Cassady on behalf of Neal Cassady Estate –including postcards with noted photos of, and by, the elegant poet, photographer, lover and muse Carolyn Cassady – with the aim of “Keeping the legacy alive” ++ a bit about Ken Kesey & the Merry Pranksters Further bus.

Oh yeah a reference to Brian Hassett’s cool “Hitchhiking to Kerouac” book in there too with stories about Carolyn Cassady…

Be like your heroes of something… photo by Wang Ping (screenshot from a FB post obv)

Finally, a whole rundown of poets Gary Snyder and Wang Ping spending time together at Kitkitddizze in Sierra Nevada –working on translation, amplification and edification including coffee, Han Shan poems, Hanko stamps, sons Gen and Kei, Lagunitas IPA and gyoza dumplings and cowboy steaks, the history of Axe Handles poem (and translation thereof), Snyder’s new book “This Present Moment” and me at “home” (finally) in a red velvet robe with coffee cup by potter Marty Thurston Kendall of Utah knowing while our journey is our own, there is precedent for path before (like I can be 91 hanging out with my son Ichiro, living well and making poems in a barn).

Gary Snyder and sons Gen and Kei kicking back at Kitkitddizze homestead with Lagunitas IPA and dumplings by poet Wang Ping (who took the photo)

See more at @Ping Wang’s Youtube – especially this video about Axe Handles: and website: http://www.wangping.com/ and see also translated “Flander’s Field” (Canadian) John McCrae to Chinese.

More Kiana Brasset at (I guess, sorta need better link or…? anyhow) met her on the Tracks on Tracks trip.

Moo cards / various sizes and styles, each can be unique = get some https://refer.moo.com/s/gravellybeach

Also, a postcard from a friend wandering in London, a new batch of Moo “friendship” cards [get yer own]

Always more more more projects coming along…

Fondly, dvo/uw