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 sinological book, a liberal modern Dutch reading of Laozi's Daode jing, was published as Lau-tze's vele wegen by Synthese in September 2017. His newest book of poems in Dutch, Intocht (Introit) has been available as a POD from the American Book Center since June 2018.

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. His newest book of poetry in Dutch is Intocht (Introit), issued by the American Book Center in June 2018.

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. For many years he sang in the choir of a Roman Catholic church of the Eastern Rite in The Hague.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Dead Bird Verses 1 (poems from Where Is the Body...)

(1)   Run-Over Dove

Even in death the bird’s blood’s red –
dry, true, less than ever much,
but gleaming over cobble, outspread,
up. Mapping forever one touch

of wind and wheel it seals head flat,
sticking to stone with single eye above,
holding to heart one stony splat
as ever a falcon held the hawker’s glove.

Flatted wings still wave white,
fray at the edge away from earth, fight
up. Eye stays a circle, posed

right for the warmer longer light of even,
poised split in its ever center, even
in death dark, even in death not closed.

(2) Dead Thrush 1

Strange my own opening killed the bird:
window I had made. No curtain, screen:
I was asleep. I never even heard
the head slug on the soundless unseen.

I woke to see him lying on the porch,
motionless and yet a center still,
heavy at the head end as a torch
all the winds had risen round to kill.

His body flattened as the earth is flat,
clinging to form although the fire was out.
If only the bringer of rest had been a cat,
part of the living, not the human bout –

the killer was no cat. It was my eye,
needing a glass to dream of flying by.

--Lloyd Haft (from Where Is the Body That Will Hold?,  1998)