Cantonese Proverbs in One Picture

A Cantonese take on Brueghel’s painting of Netherlandish Proverbs. It’s absolutely wonderful – take a look.

廣府話小研究Cantonese Resources

阿塗(Ah To) , a graphic designer and part-time cartoonist who concerns about the survival of Cantonese in Canton and Hong Kong, has just published a comic called ” The Great Canton and Hong Kong Proverbs” on Hong Kong independent media “ Passion Times “. The cartoon contains illustrations of 81 Cantonese proverbs.

“The Great Canton and Hong Kong Proverbs”
In 1559, Dutch artist Pieter Bruegel created the oil painting “Netherlandish Proverbs” which illustrates many Dutch proverbs to praise the Dutch culture. In 2014, Ah To imitated the idea and created “Great Canton and Hong Kong proverbs” illustrating 81 Cantonese proverbs to propagate the Cantonese culture and defend Cantonese.

81 Cantonese Proverbs 

(I attempt to finish this table in a week.)

 Cantonese Proverbs Meanings
 cantoneseproverb1鬼揞眼[gwái ám ngáahn]

(a ghost covers one’s eyes)

1. to fail to see something
2. to fail to find something
3. to make a mistake

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Brazilian Baroque: Congonhas





  1. In the late 17th century, the centre of gravity of colonial Brazil briefly shifted from the slave-based agriculture of the coast to the veins of gold of the interior. This area is now the state of Minas Gerais, which means “General Mines”. They still are.
  2. On the road north from Congonhas to Belo Horizonte, the December rain had painted the highway red. Enormous trucks that had once been yellows, greys and blues powered up hills and freewheeled down them. We passed a crest on the hill and the heart of country was open in front of us. The green was gone. Red earth was all there is. Red ore is all there is. Once the strips were exhausted, the pasture would probably be replaced. Read more of this post

The Spaces Between: Anne Carson’s “Red Doc>”


Anne Carson’s latest book, Red Doc>, might not be for everyone: it mostly flows down the middle of the page in a heterodox column of text; it confuses syntax in confused situations; it doesn’t always finish its sentences. But confusion can also move deeply (as in this extract). In the second and third lines, memories pile up and correct themselves, in shock, without commas: the boy, now man, first knows then knew. Time has passed, his lover has changed, but the memories of throwing “your soul through every door” seem to surprise him in their intensity, and the break-up is still sudden: it is only afterwards that he/they realize there was no longer any place for touching. It was over, like the unfinished sentence, “Take my.” This is surely closer to how we as humans really feel: the difficulty of expressing past emotion lies in unfinished, not complete sentences.

Red Doc> continues Carson’s reworking of the Geryon myth started in Autobiography of Red (I haven’t read this—perhaps a cold review of a sequel is inadvisable), resituating the red winged herdsman-monster from Greek myth as a modern gay man, G. In the book, G’s ex-lover, Sad, returns traumatized from war; they meet again; they head north with a friend, Ida; G visits his mother as she is dying. In quests or road narratives, a brief summary like this is overly simplistic but accurate; a brief summary like this is unavoidable; a brief summary like this is impossible. Read more of this post

Shazea Quraishi’s “The Courtesans Reply”

Wall paintings from the Ajanta Caves, Maharashtra (Image: Rob Packer)

Wall paintings from the Ajanta Caves, Maharashtra (Image: Rob Packer)

I first came across Shazea Quraishi at the Poetry Parnassus festival in London in 2012, where she read poems from the perspective of courtesans in ancient India. They were engaging and lyrical, but it was a review of the pamphlet, The Courtesans Reply on John Field’s Poor Rude Lines blog that jogged my mind to get in touch with Shazea and order the pamphlet (yes, those blog contact forms do work).

The sequence is Quraishi’s response to the ancient Indian texts from the first millennium BC, especially the Caturbhānī, four Sanskrit monologue plays from the 3rd century BC (she explains a little more about these monologues here), as well as the more famous Kāma Sūtra. The bulk of the pamphlet is given over to persona poems, where Quraishi gives her courtesans names, personalities and voices with which to respond—it’s perhaps worth remembering that the “reply” of the title is an active verb.

The sequence opens with a poem called “The Sixty-Four Arts”, which sets the stage for learned, trained courtesans, who must be “Of pleasant disposition / beautiful and otherwise attractive”, but may not always be what they seem: Read more of this post

Non-Place and Place: “Remnants of Another Age” by Nikola Madzirov

Nikola Madzirov was born in Strumica in south-eastern Macedonia in 1973 and over the past few years has come to be recognized as “one of the most powerful voices in contemporary European poetry”, according to the blurb of Bloodaxe’s collection of his work, Remnants of Another Age. That might sound bombastic, but they may be right.

The book, which comes as a bilingual Macedonian-English edition (more on this later), has some breathtaking lines, like these in “Everything Is a Caress”:

The snow was folding its wings
over the hills, I was laying my palms
over your body like a tape measure
which unfolds only along the length
of other things.

The repetition of “folding” links the simile of the tape measure, which fulfils its purpose as it unfolds, not just to the speaker’s hands, but also to the snow, which too is nothing, until it falls on other things. Read more of this post

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