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Sunday, 2 December 2012

Simon Schuchat: The American Friend


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Round by Baoshan Lu (4):  photo by Jake in Shanghai, 8 May 2007



The road is cold, clear, knots of
Folk on side streets chat, wait

For the bus to a small room I will
Never enter, never see, though imagine

A few times in bewilderment at life
I will, I mean the life of them here

Who live surrounded by duress and
Therefore whose figures are more than

Right in front of my eyes, ordinary lives
So much so I simply can't see, I, a

Regular character in the papers, whose
Life has been neither difficult nor important.

And in my country is it different?
And would you feel that carapace too,

If you had this bitter pleasure
If you lived among but never with us? 





Simon Schuchat: The American Friend, from At Baoshan, in The East Village Poetry Web, Volume 1, 1998




Old home in Baiyang town, Baoshan, Shanghai: photo by Remko Tanis, 11 September 2012


Old home in Baiyang town, Baoshan, Shanghai: photo by Remko Tanis, 11 September 2012


Fixing clothes in Baiyang town, Baoshan, Shanghai: photo by Remko Tanis, 11 September 2012


Motorcycle parts in old home in Baiyang town, Baoshan, Shanghai: photo by Remko Tanis, 11 September 2012


 Ducks hanging, early morning, around Baoshan Road, Shanghai: photo by -MriC- (Aymeric), 27 October 2007


Old homes in Baiyang town, Baoshan, Shanghai: photo by Remko Tanis, 11 September 2012

 

Street in the old part of Baiyang town, Baoshan, Shanghai: photo by Remko Tanis, 11 September 2012


Street in Baiyang town, Baoshan, Shanghai: photo by Remko Tanis, 11 September 2012




  Baiyang town, Baoshan, Shanghai: photo by Remko Tanis, 11 September 2012

7 comments:

Wooden Boy said...

The hesitations in this poem take us to the edge of situations but leave us there, knowing there can't be knowledge or possession, that we are foreigners.

The fifth stanza is the most remarkable for this.

TC said...

The remarkable delicacy and modesty of that admission makes this poem extraordinary in its compassionate "outsider" view.

The poet here characteristically understates his own role in the affairs of the world -- "a/ Regular character in the papers, whose/ Life has been neither difficult nor important."

Simon and I go back quite a way. But his career in the diplomatic service has taken him to places I can only visit in day dreams.

Susan Kay Anderson said...

"surrounded by duress"

stress of the rest
old things around
chairs the white teddy
shoddy bricks that look
like they'd break
if they were in
America
we want your labor
but don't want to pay
for it

Lally said...

Simon was a brilliant poet when he was a teenager, and he still is, Incredibly nuanced subtleties in this beautifully constructed poem.

TC said...

Couldn't have said it better, Lals. The poem is stunning, a wonderment.

And Michael, by the way (though he doesn't mention it), deserves credit for picking up on Simon's work early. See the 1976 Crossing Press anthology None of the Above, ed. M. Lally.

tpw said...

Nice poem by Simon, and it's good to have him back in the US poetry world again--I see he's reading soon at St. Mark's.

Nin Andrews said...

I always feel like that Regular character . ..