What Are The Qualities of Classical Chinese Poetry? And How Does That Relate to My Poems In My Book, A Tea Stronger Than Death?

During the Tang (618–907) and Song (960–1279) dynasties in ancient China, tea salons and tea drinking, along with poetry and visual arts, became the fabric of Chinese culture. The iconic title, The Classic of Tea written by Lu Yu, was birthed during the Tang dynasty.

When I was writing my collection of poems, Tea was very much present – as subject, as witness, as collaborator. Though the poetry is in English, the experience was culturally Chinese. I was drinking Chinese teas from Chinese tea vessels, I was writing in the presence of ancestral spirits, and was working with classical Chinese poetry conventions, in ways that are most realistically possible when writing in English.

I list the key traits found in classical Chinese poetry that made it in my own poems in English. By sharing these, I hope you also gain a deeper appreciation of how and why the words in my poems landed the way they did. 

1. The Chinese poem is concise and deceptively simple on the surface. It was largely devoid of ornate language and elaborations (commonly found in Western European poetry).

2. The Chinese poem contains subject matter that reference cycles, the land, and every day trials of love, family, and life.

3. The Chinese poem embodies multiplicity. The fixtures can be interpreted literally, but also carry secondary and even tertiary meanings through the symbols. In many ways, the poems are spells and love letters, designed to be disguised or hidden from plain view.

4. The Chinese poem often employs contrast as a poetic principle, often juxtaposing a personal situation with a natural scene. This is Daoist in principle as it highlights the ever-present interplay of Yin Yang polarities.

I’ll be sharing more about my book of poetry, as well as ways it can be appreciated beyond the poems alone, for divining / using as an oracle, as a ritual tool, and as a catalyst for creativity at 

on Friday, December 8 from 7-9PM
O5 Tea, Vancouver (in-person only)

In addition to the workshop on how to use my book esoterically, we’ll also be celebrating the second edition printing of A Tea Stronger Than Death: Poems of Hurt and Healing While on Sacred Buffalo Guardian Mountain Expect a feast of exquisite O5 tea pairings, artisanal chocolates from Coco Et Olive, poetry readings, book signing, the option to purchase a limited edition Book + Companion Teas Gift Kit, and chances to win raffle prizes!