Brief bio sketch

Lloyd Haft (1946- ) was born in Sheboygan, Wisconsin USA and lived as a boy in Wisconsin, Louisiana and Kansas. In 1968 he graduated from Harvard College and went to Leiden, The Netherlands for graduate study in Chinese (M. A. 1973, Ph. D. 1981). From 1973 to 2004 he taught Chinese language and literature, mostly poetry, at Leiden. His sinological publications include Pien Chih-lin: A Study in Modern Chinese Poetry (1983/2011; published in Chinese translation as 发现卞之琳: 一位西方学者的探索之旅 in 2010) and Zhou Mengdie’s Poetry of Consciousness (2006). His most recent book, a liberal modern Dutch reading of Laozi's Daode jing, was published as Lau-tze's vele wegen by Synthese in September 2017.



He has translated extensively into English from the Dutch of Herman Gorter and Willem Hussem, and from the Chinese of various poets including Lo Fu, Yang Lingye, Bian Zhilin and Zhou Mengdie.



Since the 1980s he has also been active as a poet writing in Dutch and English. He was awarded the Jan Campert Prize for his 1993 bilingual volume Atlantis and the Ida Gerhardt Prize for his 2003 Dutch free-verse readings of the Psalms (republished by Uitgeverij Vesuvius in 2011). His newer poems are published (some republished) on this blog.



After early retirement in 2004, for a number of years Lloyd Haft spent much of his time in Taiwan with his wife Katie Su. In addition to writing and translating, his interests include Song-dynasty philosophy and taiji quan. He sings in the choir of a Roman Catholic church of the Eastern Rite in The Hague.



Thursday, April 14, 2011

from Atlantis 5 (poems)


(1)   Airport Coffee

Shove a quick elbow
across a table dumb as we,

gather in a coffee cup and weigh,
hold heart-high and right
what blackening feeds.

Swallowing you carry on
your life’s, this time’s calling
of listening for windows:
letting on their own side

all drops fall,
nothing missing
and if I next shall see you

be cup and table
thus, be rain again
so bright my way inclined.


(2)   Large-Leaf Linden

How such narrow tree
could reach me over day,
over shadows on water,
such.

Reach me where staying is
what saying becomes:
say a leaf is heart-shaped
and it is.

I remember how you called me your
leaf. Over summers and shade
sound, sense flapping.
Something it must have been you saw,

out of massed green suddenly
seeming: dim yet
exceedingly one. And what you saw
you said: what later

would reach me and does, touching
where upstairs windows weathering
accommodate the muted glint we call
recall. Knowing back I call today’s wind

toothed and it is.

--Lloyd Haft (from Atlantis, Querido 1993)