Sarah Sparkes
drinking wine - poem number 5 - detail below

Harry Pye & His Friends
Poetic License at
110 church street N16 OJX
June 13th - July 6th
pv Wednesday 11th June

Harry Pye asked me to make a drawing based on a poem that had moved me and I chose 'Twenty Poems Written After Drinking Wine' - number 5 by T'ao Ch'ien (365ADľ427AD)

I had just moved to London to study on a Foundation course, and was browsing through a display of Chinese poetry books at a shop called Neal Street East in Covent Garden, when I came across this poem by T'ao Ch'ien. Everything seemed to stop around me as I was within the scene and the moment conveyed by this poet writing over a thousand years ago.

I couldn't afford to buy the book, so I copied out the words and the poet's name in an address book I was carrying. I learnt it off by heart.

Later, with the arrival of the Internet, I searched and found many translations of the poem and interestingly although each time the words were different, the essence of the meaning and the images and feeling conveyed remained the same in each translation. The western alphabet is made up of letters whose formations bear no visual resemblance to the things or ideas that they are describing, but T'ao Ch'ien was writing using Chinese pictoral, representative characters and maybe this is why the meaning is unchanged by the differnet translations. On the many occasions when I've sat in my rented garden in noisy Camberwell, watching the sunset behind Kings College Hospital incinerator and drinking a gin and tonic, I experience the same moment of profound meaning which cannot be put into words.

Below are two translations of the poem - you can find many more on the internet

Here is a translation by David Hinton:

Drinking wine - Poem number 5
by T'ao Ch'ien (365ADľ427AD)

I live in a town without all that racket
horses and carts stir up,and you wonder

how that could be.Wherever the mind
dwells apart is itself a distant place.

Picking chrysanthemums at my east fence,
far off I see South Mountain: mountain

air lovely at dusk, birds in flight
returning home. All this means something,

something absolute: whenever I start
to explain it, I've forgotten the words.

Including (in alphabetical order)

Gordon Beswick, Lloyd Durling, Marenka Gabeler, Nynke Gabeler, Mikey Georgeson, Marisol Malatesta, Mark Mcgowan, John Moseley, Ben Newton, Sean O'Connor, Pete the Painter, Rowland Smith, Sarah Sparkes, Barry Thompson, Gavin Toye, Edward Ward

Poetic Licence is not just another group exhibition and it's not a solo show either. Poetic Licence is the first gathering of The Harry Pye & His Friends Poetry Appreciation Society. It's by no means a somber affair but I am taking it quite seriously. The paintings, drawings, video and photography that you'll see exhibited have all been inspired by poems that moved me and, in some cases, shaped who I am. There will be a special opening night but it wont be a normal private view. If you want to attend the Poetic Licence party you have to bring along a poem that moved you. Bring the poem on a piece of A4 paper. I'll get it hole punched and file it away safely so that I can read it later. There are many artists helping to make Poetic Licence a special event. Those taking part include: Gordon Beswick, Lloyd Durling, Marenka Gabeler, Mikey Georgeson, Marisol Malatesta, Mark McGowan, John Moseley, Ben Newton, Rowland Smith, Sarah Sparkes, Barry Thompson, Gavin Toye and Edward Ward. As well as a few surprise guests.

Don't forget - you must bring a poem with you if you wish to see the show.