Cooking up Poetry and Music
Walking into the Datong traditional market, straight away, you are greeted with the eclectic smell of fresh fish, meat, fruits, and vegetables, and the sound of merchants greeting the passers-by warmly. Go up close to one of the stalls and see if you can recognize the produce names neatly displayed there. A neighboring stall is surrounded by billowing white steam. As the owner’s hands work feverishly, the stewed pork rice and meatball soup in the pot exude a strong aroma, which is commonplace and yet deeply significant in the locals’ life.
The Taitung Old Street Festival starts at Datong Market and takes visitors to experience Taitung life elements that simply cannot be gleaned from a travel guide. Take some time to visit the Taitung branch of the Chinese Association Hall, whose vast spaces resound with war’s solemnity and the glory of human achievement. Step through the Datong Theater’s heavy antique gates and cast your eyes over the yellowed movie posters and programs that appear to have been frozen in time since 2009. Let your curiosity guide you and explore every nook and cranny in Taitung! Taitung’s elderly inhabitants will gladly greet any passers- by, using the warmth of their welcome to melt away the burdensome fatigue of those who have journeyed from afar.
Seizing upon the sensations of daily life and weaving them into bundles of poignant descriptive verse is the art of the poets who have gathered at the Taitung Poetry Festival. Here, poets of different regions, ethnic groups, generations, and styles are brought together to sing Taitung’s praises through poetry and song. Each of them brings their own style and perspective to the celebration of Taitung’s perpetual charm.
“The rooftops may be lower, but the sky here is much higher than in Taipei / The lights may be dimmer, but the stars here are much brighter than in Taipei / The people may be sparser, but the mountains here are much denser than in the Western lands… No matter how the earth spins, Taitung is forever in front of your gaze”. This is Taitung as described by the poet Yu Kwan-Chung. Is it also the Taitung which now sits in front of your eyes?
Poetry f lies over the mountains, sails over the sea, rests in front of the fire, and nestles between the cups and plates; it basks in the sunlight, lingers in the moonlight, and flows continually in and out of our hearts. Travelers can always bring a unique sensibility to the words which describe and ref lect the life of Taitung. Lift your pen and write! Write a Taitung poem that belongs to you alone.