Jonathan Stalling with Afaa Michael Weaver

Afaa Michael Weaver. Photograph courtesy of Catherine Laine.
Afaa Michael Weaver. Photograph courtesy of Catherine Laine.

In 2007, I founded the Mark Allen Everett Poetry Series. This series curates between 10 to 15 readings a year in Norman, Oklahoma and features poets spanning a broad spectrum of poetry communities and styles. Past poets who have read include Tom Raworth, Hank Lazer, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Arthur Sze, Natasha Tretheway, Myung Mi Kim, Charles Alexander, Joe Harrington, Afaa Weaver, Shin Yu Pai, Leonard Schwartz, Hugh Tribby, Gerald Stern, Sy Hoawhwah, Alexandra Teague, Kate Greenstreet, Dean Rader, Zhang Er, Julie Carr, Tim Roberts, Grant Jenkins, Keorapetse Kgositsile, Duo Duo, Wang Jiaxin, Glenn Mott, among many more.

In this conversation, Afaa Weaver and I discuss the intersection of Chinese martial arts and Weaver’s poetics. Weaver discusses how his background in Yang style Taiji Chuan and, later, Xingyi Chuan and Daoist meditation (inner alchemy), have enriched his poetics with an understanding of mind-body quite distinct from the varied Western cosmologies that more commonly inform English-language poetics. In fact, even within the context of transpacific poetics, which has been far more influenced by Buddhist philosophy/practice, Weaver’s poetics remain quite distinct, since his relationship to Daoism has arrived by way of psychophysiological forms of cultivation, rather than the more common intertextual ones (Daodejing, Zhuangzi, Yijing, etc).

—Jonathan Stalling

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Born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1951, Afaa Michael Weaver (Michael S. Weaver) has been awarded an NEA fellowship in poetry, a Pew Fellowship and an appointment as a Fulbright scholar at National Taiwan University in Taipei, Taiwan. He has had plays produced professionally and worked as an editor and freelance journalist. His eleventh collection of poems is Kama i’reeh (Like the Wind), a translation of his work into Arabic by Wissal Al-Allaq. His 12th collection of poetry, The Government of Nature, was published by University of Pittsburgh Press (March 2013). It is the second book in a trilogy that began with The Plum Flower Dance. The trilogy is Weaver’s attempt to integrate his lifelong interest in Chinese culture with his ongoing project of exploring working-class interiority. Weaver lives in Somerville, Massachusetts and teaches at Simmons College, where he holds an endowed chair as the Alumnae Professor of English. As a translator working in contemporary Chinese poetry, he maintains this website for cultural bridge building.

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