Being a compendium drawn from Ha Jin translations per Li Bai (mostly), but also Du Fu & a host of other poet companions of Bai’s appearing in Jin’s The Banished Immortal: A Life of Li Bai. My own versions, arriving as I read Jin’s biography in preparation of writing a review for Rain Taxi, immediately began taking form dedicated to the memory of poet Tom Clark with whom I studied in the late 1990s. This was after Tom’s passing on August 17, 2018, during the following spring as I became involved with helping set up a memorial reading. Thanks to Angelica Clark, I had acquired several more of Tom’s many, many books and re-read my way through the vast body of his work. My versions of Jin’s translations alter the settings of the originals to a semi-imaginary envisioning of the San Francisco Bay Area. The city itself (where I live with my wife Ava just south of Golden Gate Park) at center, Mt. Tamalpais/Bolinas to the north across the Golden Gate Bridge, the Pacific just to 80 the west, and the Sierras far to the east, with LA distantly to the south. References also began appearing to other poets I studied under, as I had with Tom, in Poetics at New College, Joanne Kyger and David Meltzer, both of whom had likewise recently passed away. In addition, various reference to pals and relationships (often fanciful) of my own from out those years also popped up in the lines now and then.
"There is so much feeling in these poems . . . as if we have not been wholly consumed by technology. You have crossed a barrier into the grand poetic voice which we see in Sappho, in the Chinese masters, in The Song of Songs. A truly modern counterpart is John Wieners. I’m simply carried away by the triumph of heartfelt knowledge."
- Neeli Cherkovski
Poems @ Poetry Foundation
Patrick James Dunagan lives in San Francisco and works at Gleeson Library for the University of San Francisco. A graduate of the Poetics program from the now-defunct New College of California he edited Roots and Routes: Poetics at New College of California, eds. Dunagan, Lazzara, & Whittington (Vernon Press) an anthology of critical writings by Poetics program alumni and faculty. He also edited a Portfolio of work on and by David Meltzer for Dispatches from the Poetry Wars (where he served on the editorial board). In addition, he edited poet Owen Hill's A WALK AMONG THE BOGus (Lavender Ink). His essays and book reviews appear frequently with a wide number of both online and print publications. His books include: THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO THINK THAT PAINTERS SHOULDN'T TALK: A GUSTONBOOK (Post Apollo), Das Gedichtete (Ugly Duckling), from Book of Kings (Bird and Beckett Books), Drops of Rain / Drops of Wine (Spuyten Duyvil), The Duncan Era: One Reader's Cosmology (Spuyten Duyvil), and Sketch of the Artist (fmsbw). He is currently at work editing Meltzer's 1965 poetic manifesto on rock 'n roll culture, ROCK TAO (Lithic Press, expected 2022).