Leaving My Found Eden : Poetography by Ron L. Zheng
Ron L. Zheng Biography
Ron L. Zheng is an award-winning author, photographer, poet and graphic designer. As an artist, Mr. Zheng seeks out connections and fusions among art forms and cultures. Although Mr. Zheng’s ethnic heritage is Chinese, he was born and raised in Japan and has spent most of his adult life in the United States. His diverse cultural background has led him to develop Poetography, an art form that, through English-language tanka poetry and black & white photography, merges traditional Chinese and Japanese cultures with contemporary western culture.
Mr. Zheng’s Poetography has been exhibited in Los Angeles; New York City; London; San Francisco; Vancouver; Toronto; Santa Monica; Washington, D.C.; Portland, Oregon; Seattle; and Nishinomiya, Japan. From 2009 through 2011, his Poetography has toured throughout British Columbia, in Port Moody, Salmon Arm, Parksville, Prince Rupert, Sechelt and Kaslo.
The first book of his work, “Leaving My Found Eden: A Poetography Collection,” was published by Literary Road Press in 2009. The book won the 2009 da Vinci Eye Award for his design of the book’s cover, and the 2010 Readers Views Literary Award for Global Literature/Asia. The book was also a Finalist for several other awards, including the National Best Books 2009 Awards (for General Photography), the Eric Hoffer Award (Poetry), the 2009 Next Generation Indie Book Award (Cover Design), and the Readers Views Literary Awards (Humanities). His poetry won the 1st Honorable Mention in the 6th International Tanka Festival Tokyo 2009.
He is a member of the Academy of American Poets, the Tanka Society of America, Tanka Canada and the American Institute of Graphic Artists. His tanka poems have been published in the tanka journals Modern English Tanka and Gusts.
Ron L. Zheng Artist Statement
Poetography is a new art form that, through poetry and photography, merges the poetic and visual traditions of Japanese and Chinese cultures with the technology and themes of contemporary Western culture.
The poems are English-language tanka. An important element in Japanese culture for over a thousand years, traditional Japanese tanka poems consist of five lines with a syllable pattern of 5-7-5-7-7. Although conceived and written in English, my Poetography poems follow the traditional tanka formal structure.
Both China and Japan have traditions of combining text with paintings. Haiga is a traditional Japanese style in which haiku poems are juxtaposed with the painted images. Poetography follows that style, but with tanka and photography. All the photographs are shot on black & white film and printed on canvas to convey the spirit of traditional Chinese black ink paintings.
Although the form of Poetography is based on ancient Chinese and Japanese traditions, the narrative content of the poetry is contemporary, describing events and places from modern Western culture. Most of the poems depict everyday events, ordinary but special moments, from my own life or the lives of my friends. I try to capture moments with strong emotional impact, treating the images and poems as visual and verbal short stories, each one telling a complete, stand-alone narrative.
I believe that each piece is not complete until it is viewed by another person. People react to my Poetography pieces in very personal ways, using their own lives and experiences to connect with each piece. Because the images and poems address events that are both commonplace and extraordinary, people experiencing them are able to find connections with their own lives.
My work bridges love and hate; remembering and forgetting; movement and stillness. I believe that there is no difference in color or gender or sexuality and that we all the same on the inside. I am hoping that my Poetography is able to touch some part of everyone’s heart.