Community Poetry Night – Celebrating the Lunar New Year!

chinese-new-year-2018Yesterday (Feb. 8, 2018), I had the pleasure of hosting my first Community Poetry Night as Cupertino Poet Laureate. Thank you to everyone who came out and made the evening special! With over 30 attendees present it was an exciting night, and your presence was a wonderful way to kick off the Lunar New Year & Spring Festival season.

Most importantly, I feel grateful and inspired after listening to everyone read their poetry or put their voice and emotional stamp on the poetry of others. What an amazing gift all of you have given to me and to each other. I look forward to hosting many more Community Poetry Nights during my term.

Over the next two years, one of my goals is to gather work from local poets and poetry enthusiasts, and to put them together in an anthology. If you’re interested in being a part of this project, please stay posted for more information and/or send in your work via email. If you would like to send in a poem from the reading, please feel free to email your work to me for a future compilation! 

Here are some photos from the evening … and if you have pictures to share, please email them to me at!

Photos courtesy of Alex McCormick (c) 2018.

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Prompt (Late) #34 : Dragons!

I wrote this prompt late, and I’m posting it even later. But I didn’t want to waste the work I’d done, so here you go.

My daughter is in love with dragons. She’s working up a fellowship proposal about them, so in the spirit of solidarity, I looked up some dragon poems.

Many people are in love with dragons, and not surprisingly, there is a lot of great dragon poetry — some ancient, some Chinese, some Nordic, much American. Lots of dragon poems are for kids, but not all.

Here is a sampling. Read about dragons and then think about why you might be scared, fascinated, ignorant, or in awe. Then write a dragon poem yourself. What’s in the dark with a flaming breath? Who will bring you good luck or death?


From The Poetry Foundation:




Prompt #16 : Year of the Horse

Chinese New Year is here. Everywhere I go in Cupertino I can see the signs. The nail shop had a lovely tree with yellow flowers and red & gold paper money envelopes hanging all over it. There were gorgeous yellow chrysanthemums* in pots decorated with red and gold bows. My realtor sent us a shiny gold envelope, decorated with red Chinese calligraphy, containing a crisp single dollar bill. She wishes us Gung Hay Fat Choy!


There are many many people in Cupertino who can tell you more about this holiday than I can; I’m not an expert, not even a little bit knowledgeable. I know that I was born in the year of the rat, and furthermore that I’m a metal rat (1960).  Anyone born this year will be born in the year of the wood horse (2014). I’m not a great believer in astrology, but I love symbol and image, I love tradition and color and storytelling and celebrations. So, to celebrate Chinese New Year, I’m going to write a poem to a horse.

There are many poems in English about horses.

  • This one, “Horse Horse Hyphen Hyphen” by Marilyn Chin (a Chinese American poet from Hong Kong and Portland OR), speaks wildly about Chinese zodiac, custom, sex, disappointment and family.
  • There is an entire genre of “horse haiku” written by horseback riding enthusiasts — most of it not great haiku and not remotely Japanese.
  • This 2008 essay “Horses and Poetry” discusses poetry about horses and includes a lovely Chinese painting with poem from the Tang Dynasty. chinese horse poem
  • This site presents wonderful translations of multiple Chinese poets into English by the great and wonderful Kenneth Rexroth. I particularly like “Jade Flower Palace” by Tu Fu, which includes this image:

A stone horse is left of his

So, your challenge this month is to write a poem about a horse, or if you’re feeling energetic, to look up your Chinese zodiac sign and write about that. Have fun. And I wish you health, happiness, success and good fortune in the new year.

*The chrysanthemum is one of the “Four Gentlemen” (四君子) of China (the others being the plum blossom, the orchid, and bamboo). The chrysanthemum is said to have been favored by Tao Qian, an influential Chinese poet, and is symbolic of nobility. It is also one of the four symbolic seasonal flowers. (Quoted from Wikipedia. Please comment if you know more about this, or if it is incorrect.)