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詩人之聲 The Voice of the Poet
2011/10/23 12:09
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詩人之聲

格蘭娜.豪樂威  作


人們常會到驚訝,當他們聽到剛自阿岡國家研究所退休的核能工程師馬為義同時也是國際知名的詩人及翻譯家非馬。


他最成功的一本書,《非馬短詩精選》在中國大陸出了兩版,賣出了一萬多册。他的影響遍及東南亞。台灣及大陸的文學班上採用並研究他的詩作。 


非馬的頭九本詩集是用他的母語中文寫成的。他的第十本也是最近的一本叫做《秋窗》的書是用英文寫的(阿博山出版社,定價美金八元)。該書在芝加哥地區的各大書店都可買到。 


非馬一九六九年來到阿岡,他與同事費立普·碧奇卡很快便發現他們有共同的興趣—詩。碧奇卡對非馬早期把中文詩翻譯成英文的努力有大功勞。碧奇卡說:『我不懂中文,所以我的貢獻只是加上一個英文讀者的觀點。在非馬解釋原詩的每一行的涵意之後,我們便討論每個選詞的音樂性及用法等等。翻譯不是機械的過程。捕捉微妙的意義及英文文法已夠困難,讓它聽起來像詩更是難上加難。』 


高根翰獎金及美國詩人學會拉曼詩獎的得主、芝加哥詩人李立揚說:『我喜愛非馬,他是我認識的真正有教養的人士之一。他又寫又畫。一個文化復興型的人物。我大約在十年前初到芝加哥時遇到他。華裔藝術家及詩人們常在唐人街或某個人的家裡聚會。我們會整夜畫畫寫詩。』 


『非馬的詩屬于那種詩派—表面上平凡,但在語言及感知上有獨特的轉折。』李最近說。『我想詩對他來說是一種瑜珈。使他敏銳,有人情,活潑生動。他用他的藝術做為對抗現代高壓生活的良藥。而有時候像他這樣的詩人會為某種大於自我的東西而從事藝術。有如一種宗教。』 


非馬曾把李立揚的一些詩譯成中文。他還譯過桑德堡、狄更森、威爾伯、艾肯以及許多別的詩人的作品。其他的詩人則把非馬的詩翻譯成日文、韓文、馬來文及斯拉夫文。 


阿博特·奇林司克斯是非馬的另一位同事。兩個人都從事過電動車的研究工作。『我們有許多共同興趣。我也畫畫,雖然同非馬無法相提並論。但我不會寫作。我其實不是個特別愛詩的人,但非馬的詩很容易進入。它們有一種特別的感覺及觀察。而我想如果像我這樣的人都喜歡,也許別人也會喜歡。所以我鼓勵他出版一本英文詩集。』奇林司克斯的鼓勵是最真誠的一種,他願意資助出版費用。他最喜歡的一首詩使他想起他在立陶宛的父母的處境。這首詩的題目叫做<鳥籠>:
 


打開

鳥籠的

讓鳥飛 


 


把自由

還給

 


這是標準的非馬詩型:簡短而尖銳,讓分行擔負標點及強調意義的任務。詩從未如此自由過,但其中自有高度的規律在。 


非馬一九三六年生在中國。十三歲時隨父親到台灣。但父親忙著做生意,除了在經濟上給他支助外,非馬可說是全靠自己。 


台灣的工專没有文藝課程。心靈的需要使他決定出版一個油印文學刊物。由于稿源缺乏,他被迫為這個刊物寫了許多東西,包括詩。 


台灣的學校教英語,但非馬說許多教師從課本上學來的發音並不準確。『 我在美國大學的頭一年很辛苦—試著聽懂教授同時還得記筆記。』他說。 


非馬一九六一年來到美國。他在密爾瓦基的馬開大學得了碩士學位。在那裡他遇到了後來成為他太太的劉之群。他從陌地生的威斯康辛大學獲得核工博士學位。在到阿岡之前他曾在密爾瓦基的Allis-Chalmers公司擔任高級工程分析師。 


拉雷.透納是阿岡的物理學家。他認為科學家兼詩人沒什麼可稀奇的。他本人便是一個。他同非馬認識是在一九九一年阿岡研究所的所刊刊出了一篇介紹透納寫詩的文章。 


『我接到一個從隔壁大樓打來的電話。』透納說,r那便是非馬。他過來自我介紹並給我看他的詩。我真的喜歡它們。我組織了一個詩人工作坊,並邀請他參加。他來了,從此没間斷過。』 


非馬的太太是一位化學家,在阿岡的環境研究部門工作。《秋窗》題獻給她。他們的兩個兒子,馬凡及馬楷,已長大成家,都住在芝加哥地區。馬凡在百斯達公司的一個醫療器材研究部門當主管並寫爵士音樂。說到他父親的新書:r我很驚訝。他是一個不喜歡談論私事的人,從未顯露痛苦。他一向是粘結我們家庭的強力膠。在這些詩裡我看到了他的各個側面,使我對他有更多的了解。』 


馬凡記得多年前曾在一個中文刊物上看到一篇文章,列舉最受喜愛的現代詩人,『我父親排名第十三。它使我希望有一天能讀懂中文。我要讀他的全部作品。我很以他為榮。』 


非馬曾得過許多詩獎。他同時還編選過《台灣現代詩四十家》、《台灣現代詩選》及《朦朧詩選》等,分別在中國大陸、香港及台灣出版。除了報刊之外,他的詩被選入七十多種選集。他是洛杉磯《新大陸》詩刊的顧問。芝加哥的一個社區周報《華報》五年多來每期都有他的詩作及有關評論。 


一九九四年非馬被選為Dial-A-Poem, Chicago! 節目詩人之一。馬凡為他父親的詩朗誦錄音,供人撥電話收聽。 


一九九三至一九九五年,非馬擔任伊利諾州詩人協會會長。今年年初,他被吸收為『芝加哥詩人俱樂部』會員。非馬仍感激偶而在英文俗語方面得到幫助,但會員們都說他給與的遠大于獲得。


康絲坦.佛格,芝加哥詩人俱樂部會長同時也是伊州詩人協會的會員,說:r非馬對任何團體來說都是個資源。他是這麼謙遜安靜,但一旦他對某一首詩表示意見,他貢獻了一些有價值的東西,一些你沒想到的東西。』 


非馬說他也許不會寫出這本新書如果没有透納及他的工作坊成員的評論與探討,而伊州詩人協會的會員們也使他對使用非母語的英文的信心大為增強。 


有許多年非馬不知道他留在大陸的母親及家人的命運。七十年代初期,他的母親及家人透過香港同他在台灣的父親及在美國的他取得聯繫,非馬儘可能在經濟上幫助他們。在隔離了三十多年後,非馬終于在一九八零年回中國大陸探親。 


『他們受了許多苦,』他說。他的一首題為<功夫茶>的詩說得同樣簡短卻更有力:
 


一仰而盡

三十多年的苦澀

不堪細啜 


您卻笑著說

好茶

該慢慢品嘗

 


非馬的一些詩,如下面的<領帶>,是機智幽默的諷刺:
 


在鏡前

精心為自己

打一個

牢牢的圈套 


乖乖

讓文明多毛的手

牽著脖子走

 


有一些則開科技的玩笑,如<1993美國中西部大水>:
 


地面管制中心呼叫

哥倫比亞號太空梭 


後院漲水

盼即歸航 


退休後非馬希望有更多的時間從事藝術的追求。他學過油畫及雕塑,並于一九九四年在芝加哥的波特畫廊舉辦過個人畫展。非馬對畢加索的喜愛可從他的一些畫作裡看出。其中的一幅他拿來作為他新書的封面,書裡還有一首關於畢加索的詩。 


問他為什麼寫詩,非馬說:『寫詩有如同人們、自然甚至過去與未來對話。詩讓我了解別人,表達自己。』 


非馬打破詩與科學互不相容的說法。『科學的訓練有助于發展敏銳的觀察力及想像力,』他說。『我試著更注意事物的根本而非表層。如果詩人有什麼任務的話,我會說是促進人類的相互瞭解與和平。家庭的融洽,社會的融洽,世界的融洽。來自一個先是被日本侵略,然後是共產革命所拆散的家庭,我珍視家庭生活。』 


一九八六年非馬再度回到中國去探視他的母親及家人,這一次帶了他的太太及小孩。在這次團聚之後不久,他的父母及哥哥都因病相繼去世。 


        


    没有月亮的天空

    每顆星

    是回憶鞋中的

    一粒砂

 確證你的

 存在

 


《秋窗》裡隨處可見的人性光譜將使讀者點頭、微笑甚至揩拭眼睛。 

非馬將於三月二日晚上七時半在橡溪鎮的Borders書店朗讀他的詩作並為讀者親筆簽名。 


本文作者格蘭娜.豪樂威(Glenna Holloway)為著名詩人及伊利諾州詩人協會創會會長。她為《秋窗》寫了序。

  

本文節譯自一九九六年二月二十五日《芝加哥論壇報》(CHICAGO TRIBUNE)[生活文化版]。

另外在1996年4月4日芝加哥《華報》上有舊金山作家劉荒田的一則相關報導:
 


今年二月二十五日,在美國久負盛譽,發行全國的一流大報《芝加哥論壇報》,在《文化生活》版,以頭條位置,超過一版的篇幅,配上三幅照片,以《詩人之聲》為題,就非馬的英文詩集《秋窗》出版,對非馬先生的創作成就做了極為突出的報導。以美國報業的商業化,竟以這樣叫行內人士驚訝的大手筆,報導一位中國詩人,可算異數。怪不得人們說:  “這回詩人得到與搖滾明星一般的待遇了!”該文作者豪樂威女士可是非同小可,她乃美國伊利諾州詩人協會的創會會長,大名鼎鼎的詩人,其詩作經常得獎﹐在全國甚有影響。 


三月二日,非馬先生在芝加哥有名的“波特”大書店,舉行朗誦會,並簽名售書。現場氣氛熱烈,效果出奇的好,一些從來沒接觸過詩的人都說原來現代詩這麼可親近。非馬在書店的存書幾乎賣光,連他帶去的二十冊也出清了,有的人一買就是四五本,說是要分送給親友。眾所周知,在美國,詩向來是少數人、小圈子的享受,大眾對它是冷淡的,這一回,中國詩人非馬,創造了一個奇跡。

 

  

  Chicago Tribune

TempoDuPage


Sunday, February 25, 1996


'Actually, I'm not a great lover of poetry, but Bill's poems are immediately accessiblee.  They have a certain feel and observation...'


Albert Chilenskas,
an Argonne colleague of Marr

With William Marr's retirement from Argonne, he expects to have more time for his
poetry as well as his painting.  The work shown hanging in his home is on the cover
of his new book.

The voice of the poet


William Marr, relatively unknown in this country for his verse,
has a large following in his native China


By Glenna Holloway


SPECIAL TO THE TRIBUNE


People are frequently amazed to learn that William Wei-Yi Marr of Downers Grove, a nuclear engineer who retired this month from Argonne National Laboratory, is an internationally know poet and translator.


            His most successful book, "In the Windy City," set in the Chicago area and published in Taiwan, has sold out three printings in Taiwan, China and Southeast Asia.  Literature classes in Taiwan study his poetry.


            Marr's first nine books are written in Chinese, his native language.  His 10th and latest book, titled "Autumn Window" (Arbor Hill Press, $8), is in English and is available at Anderson's Bookshops in Downers Grove, Naperville and Elmhurst, Borders in Naperville and Oak Brook, and Barnes & Noble in Oakbrook Terrace and Downers Grove.


            Marr arrived at Argonne in 1969 and began working with Philip Pizzica of Naperville, another nuclear engineer.  They soon discovered their mutual interest in poetry.  Pizzica was a boon to Marr's early efforts at translating Chinese poets into English.


            Pizzica said, "I can't speak Chinese, so my contribution was just a matter of adding the perspective of an English-speaking reader.  We'd talk about usage and connotation and the music and cadence of word choices after Bill explained what each line said in the original.  Translating is not a mechanical process.  Capturing nuances of meaning and dealing with English grammar are difficult enough.  Making it ring like poetry is far more difficult."


            Chicago poet Li-Young Lee, winner of a Guggenheim fellowship and the Lamont Poetry Selection of the Academy of American Poets for his second book, said, "I love Bill.  Hi's one of the truly civilized people I know.  He writes and paints.  A renaissance guy.  I met him in Chicago about 10 years ago when I first came here.  Chinese-American artists and poets used to have parties in Chinatown or someone's home.  We paint and write poetry all night.


            "Bill's poetry is of a certain school-there's a plainness, but there's also a twist in language and perception he's very good at," Lee said recently. "I think poetry is a sort of yoga for him.  Keeps him sharp, humane, lively.  He practices his art as a tonic for the pressures of modern life.  And sometimes poets like him practice the art for something greater than self.  Like a religion."           



Marr has translated some of Lee's work into Chinese.  He also has translated Carl Sandburg, Emily Dickinson, Richard Wilbur, Conrad Aiken and many more into Chinese.  Other poets have translated some of Marr's work into Japanese, Korean, Malaysian and Slavic.


The Thinker


Holding his chin


thinking


how to


hold the chin


and watch the computer


do


the thinking

           

Although he has worked as a nuclear engineer, William Wei-Yi Marr of Downers Grove is     also a poet, having written ten books, nine of them in Chinese. In fact, literature classes in Taiwan study his poetry.

           

Albert Chilenskas of Hyde Park worked with Marr at Argonne on one of their current projects, electric cars.


            "We have a lot in common, professionally and socially," Chilenskas said.  "I do a little painting, although not in the same class as Bill.  But I don't write.  Actually, I'm not a great lover of poetry, but Bill's poems are immediately accessible. They have a certain feel and observation, and I thought if someone like myself enjoys them, maybe others would, too.  So I encouraged him to do a book in English."


            Chilenskas' encouragement was the sincerest kind.  He offered to help finance publication costs.  His favorite poem in the collection reminds him of his parents' plight in Lithuania.  It's titled "Bird Cage":


open


the cage


let the bird fly


away


and give


the cage


back


its freedom


            The form is typical of Marr's style: Lean and pointed, letting line breaks serve as punctuation and accentuation of meaning.  Verse has never been freer, yet strong discipline is at work. 


            Marr was born in Canton, China, in 1936.  His father took him to Taiwan, where he was on his own at age 13.  His father had business interests in other parts of Asia.  He supported his son's education, but there was little communication between them.


            No literature was taught at Marr's engineering college in Taiwan.  Feeling the need for some, he decided to put out a mimeographed magazine.  He was force to write most of it himself, including a few poems.


            English was taught in Taiwan schools, but Marr said the teachers usually learned it from books, and pronunciations were often incorrect.  "My first year in college in the U.S. was very hard--trying to understand the instructors and take note," he said.


            Marr came to the U.S. in 1961 as a graduate engineering student.  He received a master's degree at Marquette University in Milwaukee where he met and married Jane Liu.  He received a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  He was senior engineering analyst at Allis-Chalmers in Milwaukee before going to work at Argonne.


            Larry Turner of Naperville, an applied physicist at Argonne, sees nothing strange about the idea of scientist as poet.  He's one himself.  He met Marr in 1991 after an Argonne news quarterly ran an article about Turner's poetry.


            "I got a call from someone in the next building who saw the piece," Turner said.  "It was Bill.  He came over and introduced himself and brought some of his poems.  I really liked them.  I had gotten together a small poetry workshop in Naperville, and I invited him to attend.  He did, and he's been coming ever since."


            Marr's wife, a chemist, works at Argonne in environmental research.  "Autumn Window" is dedicated to her.  Their two sons, Dennis and Alvin, are grown and now live in Buffalo Grove and Chicago, respectively.


            Dennis, who works for Baxter Health Care and writes instrumental jazz, said of his father's new book: "I was surprised.  He's a very private man, never shows pain.  He's always been the glue that held the family together.  In these poems I see sides of him that give us all a greater understanding."


            Dennis recalled an article in a Chinese newspaper years ago, "a survey of the best 20th Century writers, according to the critics, my father ranked 13th.  It makes me wish I could read Chinese.  Someday I'm going to be able to.  I want to read all his work.  I'm so proud of him."


            Writing under the name Fei Ma in Chinese, Marr has won many awards for his poetry.  He was also the editor of "Forty Modern Poets of Taiwan," "Modern Poetry in Taiwan" and the "Anthology of Contemporary Chinese Poetry." published in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, respectively.  Besides literary journals, his poems have appeared in more than 70 anthologies here and abroad.  He is a consulting editor for New World, a poetry magazine in Los Angeles. Asian American News, a weekly community paper in Chicago, has featured his poetry in every issue for the last five years.


            In 1994, Marr was selected as one of the poets for Dial-A-Poem, Chicago! Dennis recorded his father's poem for the callers.


            From 1993 to 1995, Marr served as president of the Illinois State Poetry Society.  Early this year he was inducted into the Chicago Poets Club.  Marr still appreciates help with occasional problems in English idiom, but the members all say he gives much more than he receives.


            Constance Vogel, Chicago Poets Club president and member of ISPS, said: "Bill Marr is an asset to any group.  He's so modest and quiet, but when he comments on a poem he offers something valuable, something you hadn't thought about."


            Marr says he probably wouldn't have written the new book if it hadn't been for Turner and his group's critiques and the Illinois State Poetry Society whose members boosted his confidence in his adopted language.


            For years Marr did not know the fate of his mother and younger brother in mainland China.  In the early '70s his mother and brother were able to contact his father in Taiwan, who got in touch with him.  Marr made arrangements to help them financially, and after three decades, he was able to visit them in 1980.


            "They suffered a lot in China," he said.  His poem "Drinking Tea at a Family Reunion After Thirty Long Years of Separation" says more, although equally succinct:


Down at one gulp


how unbearable it would have been


to taste drop by drop


the cup of thirty bitter years


You smile and say to me


good tea


should be sipped


and savored


            Some of Marr's poetry, like "Necktie," is wry commentary:


Before the mirror


he carefully makes himself


a tight knot


to let the hand of civilization


drag him on


            Some of it tweaks technology, as in "Midwest Floods, 1993:"


Ground control


to shuttle Columbia


Backyard flooded


return immediately


            With Marr's retirement, he expects to have more time for artistic pursuits.  He studied oil painting and sculpture, and he had his first solo showing at Point Gallery in Westmont in 1994.  Marr's admiration for Picasso is evident in some of his paintings, an example of which is on the cover of his new book, which also includes a poem about Picasso.


            Asked why he writes poetry, Marr said, "It's like having a dialogue with people, nature, even the past and future.  Poetry enables me to understand other people's feelings and to express my own."


            Marr dispels any notion that poetry and science are not compatible.  "Scientific training helps develop keen observation and thinking," he said.  "I try to pay more attention to the essence rather than the superficial."


            "If there is an obligation to being a poet, I'd say it's the promotion of understanding and peace among people.  Harmony in the family, in society, in the world.  Coming from a family that was torn apart by the Japanese invasion, then by the communist revolution, I treasure family life dearly."


            In 1986 Marr again visited his mother and brother in China, this time taking his wife and sons.  After this last reunion, Marr lost both parents and brother to illness.


"In Memory of" (excerpt)


On the moonless sky


each star


is a grain of sand


in my shoes of memory


            The human spectrum visible in "Autumn Window" will make readers nod, smile and perhaps wipe an eye.

        

Marr dedicated his latest book, "Autumn Window," to his wife, Jane.  "If there is an
obligation to being a poet, I'd say it's the promotion of understanding and peace among
people," Marr said.


William Marr will sign books and be the featured reader at 7:30 p.m. March 2 at Borders, 1500 16th St., Oak Brook.


            Glenna Holloway is a poet and past president of the Illinois State Poetry Society.  She wrote a foreword to "Autumn Window."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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