Friday, April 6, 2018

A LETTER WRITTEN ON A FAN/Imaginary gardens with real toads

The snow is melted
The new year begins again
Many years we have exchanged this fan
Upon examination I have found it worn
And tattered  -- falling apart
and there is no room for additional messages
I will put it away in a secret place

You will notice I am sending a new fan
To write our messages on
The year has been bleak
The birds no longer sing
There is no promise on the mountain road
Darkness has fallen
The sun no longer shines
Will the flowers bloom in the spring?
You will write to me of your adventures
My hope is that they have been better than my own

Your laotang…..

April 6, 2018

April Six: Speaking in the Voice of Another

Today, let’s travel back in time, to feudal times in China, which began with the Xia dynasty in 2070 B.C., ending with the Revolution of 1911. In those times, girls and women, whose feet were usually bound, were oppressed, often living circumscribed lives of isolation. 

In the Hunan province, peasant women developed a secret language of female writing, called nu shu. A young girl was matched with a lifelong best friend, or soul sister, called her laotang, with whom she communicated by letter. 

Sometimes these messages were inscribed on fans, which were passed back and forth. It was not until the 1960’s that this secret language of women drew the interest of the authorities and scholars.

The story of one of these captivating relationships is told in the book by Lisa See, and the film Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.

Our exercise is to write a poem in the voice of another: in this case, the voice of a woman living in feudal times, addressing her laotang, 


Write from the point of view of any living creature. The canvas is wide. Amaze me!


Sherry Blue Sky said...

Wonderful, Annell. I, too, have wondered about how much room there would be for messages on a single fan. I love the idea that she sent her laotang a new fan. Her life does sound very circumscribed and bleak. You have captured this so well.

Dr. Anita Sabat said...

Very interesting.
Wonderful messages on fans!
Do hope spring is better at the other side...

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