For the past ten years, I have been practicing in free style with Chinese Ink on rice paper. It took me a long time to learn to work faster with an economy of brushstrokes. As a poet, I greatly appreciate the fact that for the Chinese, poetry and visual art are inseparable. Not only are paintings often inscribed with poetry, but also each painting is a poem in itself. Painting represents silent poetry for many Chinese artists and it has come to mean the same to me. The absorbency of rice paper calls for an intense, deft and concise approach, as it is often the case with poetry. I have used these new skills to paint the cover of my three poetry collections. I love to paint figures, animals and landscapes, but cranes and egrets are one of my favorite subjects.
Or Why I Love to Paint Cranes in Chinese Ink
They carry dreams under their wings,
flattened over rice paper, cranes spread
their wings in grey shades, their necks
bleed ebony, its darkness melts all over
their raised tails. See how their kohl-lined
eyes frown under the red patch of bare skin
cresting their heads like a mask or a crown
as they stand on one leg, majestic, immobile.
First published by Fifth Wednesday Journal
Hedy Habra has authored three poetry collections, most recently, The Taste of the Earth (Press 53 2019), finalist for the 2019 USA Best Book Award. Her first collection, Tea in Heliopolis won the USA Best Book Award and was finalist for the International Book Award, and Under Brushstrokes was finalist for the USA Best Book Award and the International Book Award. Her story collection, Flying Carpets, won the Arab American Book Award’s Honorable Mention and was finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award. A fourteen-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, her work appears in Cimarron Review, Bitter Oleander, Gargoyle, Nimrod and Verse Daily. Her website is hedyhabra.com