Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Hilary Tham Documentary

The first person who publicly spoke the lines of Gertrude Stein Invents a Jump Early On was the Steiny Road Poet's dear friend Hilary Tham. Hilary's decision to participate in the first reading done on snowy February day in 1996 was something she thought about carefully. How could a Chinese Malaysian take the role of Gertrude Stein, she asked aloud. I was sure she would be a rock solid actor and she was. Just as she was a friend of deep importance to me and so it is that I visit her grave every June to celebrate her life.

This year brought new rewards when the Steiny Road Poet suggested that Perry Lindstrom meet Hilary's family and some of her poet friends at her gravesite. Perry has been talking for some years about making a film about Hilary. Kim Roberts gave him that suggestion.

The gathering included Joe Goldberg, his three daughers (Ilana, Shoshanna, Rebecca), three of his granddaughters, Hilary's youngest sister Choy and her Hong Kong-based youngest brother Chee Lung and four poets.

Thus there were poems written by Hilary read as well as poems about Hilary by Karren Alenier, Mel Belin, Judy McCombs, and Miles Moore. We also created a new work made of lines and titles drawn from Hilary's work. We made King David Memorial Garden sing with Hilary's words.

Here's a favorite poem by Hilary Tham:


An Englishman is visiting his mother's grave
with flowers. He sees Mrs. Wei
spreading a feast of roast chicken,
moo shu pork, noodles
before her father's grave.
"When's your father coming out
to eat that food?" he asks.
Smiling, Mrs. Wei answers,
"Same time your mother
come to smell flowers."