Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Butterfly Dream: A Haiku about Drag Queen by Kirsten Cliff

English Original

through the smoke
dark red lips
of a drag queen

Kokako, 8, April 2008

Kirsten Cliff

Chinese Translation (Traditional)


Chinese Translation (Simplified)


Bio Sketch

Kirsten Cliff is a New Zealand writer and poet whose work has been published in journals worldwide, and will soon appear in A New Resonance 8. She is currently working on her first collection, Patient Property, which explores her recent journey through leukaemia. Kirsten is editor of the haikai section of the New Zealand Poetry Society magazine, a fine line, and she blogs at Swimming in Lines of Haiku


  1. Technically speaking, this poem is a well-crafted one-scene/image/theme/object haiku (Ichibutsu Shitate as described in the concluding paragraph of To the Lighthouse: Re-examining the Concept and Practice of Cutting, infused with appealing visual elements.

    Cinematically speaking, this poem could be read as the poetic rendering of an establishing shot.

    The drag queen portrayed in this theatrically charged haiku reminds me of those in the internationally-claimed Australian movie, "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert."

    Below is an excerpt from the Wikipedia entry, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert:

    "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is a 1994 Australian comedy-drama film written and directed by Stephan Elliott. The plot follows the journey of two drag queens and a transsexual woman, played by Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce, and Terence Stamp, across the Australian Outback from Sydney to Alice Springs in a tour bus that they have named "Priscilla", along the way encountering various groups and individuals. Containing elements of comedy, the film's title is a pun on the fact that in English speaking cultures, "queen" is a slang term for a male homosexual.[1]

    The film was noted for helping to bring Australian cinema to world attention and for its positive portrayal of LGBT individuals, helping to introduce LGBT themes to a mainstream audience."

  2. A pleasure to share my haiku here, Chen-ou. Thank you for the opportunity!

    I've watched the movie "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" many times, and in fact, own a copy of it on DVD. I was also lucky enough to see the stage show musical adaptation of the film not once, but twice, in Sydney, and then in Auckland. Amazing!

    My haiku comes from a real moment at a GLBT night club, as does this one below, written around the same time, and also published in Kokako:

    karaoke night
    watching her adam's apple

    Kokako 12 (April 2010)

    I look forward to more of your posts; you're doing great work here!

    Cheers, Kirsten

  3. Great stuff, Kristin and Chen-ou.

  4. Kirsten, thanks for sharing the backstory. I like your "karaoke night" haiku very much. L1 is a great context-setting line while Ls 2&3 stir the reader's reflection on "gender performativity."

    Scott, thanks for your kind words.