Saturday, October 17, 2009

My debut, full length collection Chansons of A Chinaman was released in September 2009 by Leaf Garden Press

Available at http://www.lulu.com/content/7314871

Chansons of A Chinaman is beyond a collection of poems, which are necessarily personal and sensorial. It is, more notably, classic in the modern, metaphysical in the witty and aesthetic, China’s wisdom and tradition in the English language, for the world; it is a Chinaman (note the tone) singing his own chansons, rather than a forever-silent Other being spoken about, uttering his own voice rather than being uttered for, representing himself rather than being represented. As such, it is nothing less than a great contribution to a great cross-cultural dialogue."


--Dr. Zhijian Tao,
author of Drawing the Dragon: Western European Reinvention of China


"At his best, Changming Yuan's writing both thinks and feels poetically. Add to this his subtle and bold incorporation of wisdom (a very rare commodity in western literary circles today), and we have someone and something interesting on our hands."



--Sebastian Barker
former Editor of the London Magazine
Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Middlesex


"I want to see the world through Changming Yuan's eyes. Where I am reminded that Guinea Pigs are not from Guinea, or pigs. This is the place that the spectacular is lifted out of the mundane. It's where my poetry wants to live."



--Rick Lupert
editor of PoetrySuperHighway.com



"Changming’s language is artful in its simplicity: his conceits are charming. Balanced, writerly phrases marble his poems. His senses are always new and his loyalty to them, and to the sense they make, always pleasure."



--Maggie Morley
editor of POETALK magazine





"Sensual, excessive and sometimes surreal, Chansons of a Chinaman is a rare find in contemporary poetry written on the North American continent; Changming Yuan's work is sincere, without a trace of posturing. The bonus: he’s smart enough to deftly undercut his sincerity with quirk, swerve, and wit."



--Alan May
editor of Apocryphaltext
A sampling from Chansons of a Chinaman

South China Cicada

no human ear has ever heard of you
           
cloistering yourself deep in the soil
          
silently sucking all sounds from roots
    
for more than thirteen years in a row
    
until high up on a summer painted twig

you slough off your earthly self
         
pouring all your being in a single song
           
before the sun sets for the yellow leaf




Secret Spirit


for years I sought light in darkness
 

with my eyes open wide as my mouth
 

I called, I sang, I prayed, I pleaded
 

for rays that might come down from above

 

now I seek darkness in light instead
 

with my ears closed tight as my eyes
 

yet I cannot find a shred of my soul's

shadow, even in a midnight dream


The Calm Clam

with a bow-wow mouth
 
as big as my bald body
  
both lips thin and hard
    
carved in full eloquence

with my tongue grown right

out of my heart and soul

i am surely meant
 
to be a voice empowered
  
for all around me
   
either silt or sediments
  
shining dull and dark
    
with soiled secrets

i often imagine myself

like a free seagull
  
singing at the top tip
    
of a tall coral tree

as myriads of grains
  
of yellowish sand
 
are panned or sifted out
   
from the wild waves
     
galloping ahead


yet color-blind and tone-deaf

i am deeply oppressed
  
under the heavy water

where sharks and squids
 
keep yelling towards the sky
  
above my blue musings

as i withhold my tongue

waiting for a sunny spell
  
to translate my loud pain
      
into a muted pearl




Immigration

To escape from the tyrannical logic
Of your mother tongue
You wandered, wandering
        Through earth’s length and breadth
    Subjecting your old self to another syntax
A whole set of grammatical rules
         Strangely new to your lips and tips
    To expand the map of your mind
        Far beyond your home and haven
Yet in the meantime it becomes colonized
        By all the puzzling paradoxes
    Of this chosen language, for example:
        Quicksand can be very slow
        Boxing rings are in fact square
        And a guinea pig is neither a pig
        Nor is it from Guinea
                Like you or me


Day & Night

If each night rises
Outside each day
There lies a mighty mountain
Where darkness runs wild

You want to climb
Along this trail of light
And hunt for the rising darkness
Even without an arrow


At Sunrise in Summer

You leap from the valley
Like an infant newly delivered
Your umbilical cord just cut off
From mother universe
To establish your own
Circulation of bloody light

Why not get up and open
Every skylight on the roof
Turning on the sun’s big tap
To take a morning shower
And cleanse all the darkness
Accumulated on our skins
tattooed by the night?


Tree and Flower

tender and charming
peach blossoms fallen
into a transparent dream
on the unmowed lawn
whose snoring disturbs
the wakening leaves

i would like to give them
a melodious kiss
but I cannot—
i am the peach tree
still still


Stream Moonset in Autumn

Close your eyes
Stay still
And you can feel
The moon’s silver needles
Softly pointed
Penetrating tranquility
Into your head, hand and heart
Like Chinese acupuncture
Flying balmy filaments
At you and me alike
Although ten thousand miles apart

Open your eyes
The light is streamwater
Spattering down from heaven
Upon your shaded shoulders
Whirling up and splashing about
Into stars, if you can
Catch just one droplet
Hurling it into the backyard
Out of the broken window
Of your fenced mind
The symphony of night
Tender


Human Culture

when i wake up
and open my eyes
i see all my dreams
bounced back from the frames

when i take a shower
and start to sing
i taste my song tart
behind the blurring curtain

when i strive to step
out of my humble house
i feel fences quarreling hard
in the whole neighborhood

when i visit around and
do some blind sightseeing
i smell blood stained
along the castle foot

finally i flee from this world
and hide myself far away
i still seem to hear
the glaring cries from the great wall

delicately hung is this earth
a bluish cage in the universe


In the Bog

As he tries to pull up
His left foot
His right foot gets
Bogged down deeper

Then he has to pull up
His right foot
As his left foot gets
Bogged down in turn

So he wades along
As his twisted figure
Signs its shadow
On the swamp of time


The Statue at the Square

In a powerful whirlwind of whims
All shapes and shadows are swept away

Together with blood-veined autumn leaves
Erasing each human foot print
Mirthfully as if in a childish game
You are the only one left here and now
Still upholding your marble-based ism


Ancestry Worshipping

No, we never planned it that way
But it so happened this seventh summer
I took my twelve-year-young son
To my father’s native village among hairless hills
In the far east end, the other side of the world
Which he had left as a starving orphan
And returned with me in the Mao suit
Like a magic-toyed boomerang
When we were both at Allen’s age
For the first times in our lives

Last time, my father forced the Little Red Guard in me
To kowtow, burn joss sticks and paper money secretly
For his parents, whose dialect had survived
Though I understood it only half-heartedly

This time, I cajoled my boy to grasp a handful of earth
From the grave of my grandma worshipped by villagers
(Her humaneness has supposedly made her a local deity)
And smuggle it to the backyard of our home in Vancouver
Like some foreign seeds prohibited at the customs

As we departed, again, our clan elder chanted:
Under the shade of a new highway
This old grave will soon be erased…


China Charms: at Zhangjiajie
(a UNESCO designated nature park)

Slim, tall and sedate
In the fluffiest garments
Of no human design
Each hill stands like a female model
Trying to display her charm and dignity
As if in a grand fashion show or
Like a fairy maiden at a casual party
Lost in a game unknown to passers-by

Amidst the morning mists
Flirtatious expressions of summer hills
I indulge myself in fits of a lover’s impulses
To give every protruding rock a dry kiss
And every slender tree a huge hug

I cannot help feeling deeply embarrassed
When my allen asks: who are they, dad?


The White Goose

My grandfather was younger than my son
When he died of an undiagnosed disease
Somewhere in the Mid-South China
So we have been told since childhood
He did nothing memorable or forgettable
Left no picture of his or any handwriting
Not even one impression on my father’s senses
(since he was born after he passed away)
But he had bought a big white goose
To protect his infant son in his place
And a single-syllabled family name
Copywriting every little poem
I have composed
In a foreign tongue


The Clay Tripod

Close to the bank of the Yangtze River
Sits an unearthed tripod
That has embraced
Spring water
Burning incense
Sesame oil
Rice wine
Persian perfume
And British opium
The tripod is none other than you
But what is the tripod?


Drawing the Dragon

There was a contest
Once
For the most faithful representation
Of loong
(Or the Chinese dragon)

In England

An inflated Satan
Or was it Sua proper
Came to squat among
The letters

Then stroke by stroke, again
It rose right
Upon
Each slate of white

Mind


The Peril of Watching Too Much TV News

If you watch too much tv about what is going on beyond your living room
You go quite mad
That’s what marco polo used to say every time he saw someone
Watching the big well-washed mouth yabaaing in front of a bigger camera
All their reporters and editors, none of them a true fly on the wall
With their freaky bias and nancy ways of looking at others
Selecting and shuffling words and pictures about evil soviets
Demon chinese, civilized lamas, angel-like looters
Humans biting dogs, johns’ caps on jills’ heads, and the deer called a horned horse
All of em juggled and tripping over one another in your little fragile brain box
Well, it’s a bit like unleashing a whole century’s illusions out of the corral
To stampede right over your ears and eyes
All those colored or uncolored lies
Whirling around inside your poor skull
Beating up storms of yellow dust
So overwhelming you cannot see or hear with your own senses
The real other world which is just the real other world
They claim to be the bars helping cage the most ferocious among us
Yet they are more ferocious than the crowned lion preying around in the jungle
Listen – what I say is
If you believe everything CBB or NCC reports about their edited worlds
You go quite mad


Chinese Chimes: the Unpatented Quadrants

we chinamen, half and quarter chinamen
children of eight or sixteenth chinamen
constantly pounded with a peculiar pride
over our ancestry's four great inventions:

the first was paper to transcribe ancient ballads
but later often used to give ultimata to your emperors
also the printing technique to transmit sages' teachings
but later often used to exhibit your ugliest scars
a third the compass to help find the golden dragon
but later often used to guide your foreign creditors
the last gunpowder to launch fireworks at spring festival
but later often used to bombard your long walls

they chinese, half and quarter chinese
children of eight or sixteenth chinese
baffled with belief, brief belief
that their unknown ancestors happened to invent
the wrong stuffs in the right times
or the right stuffs in the wrong places


Chinese Chimes: Science or Superstition:
The Ancient Theory of the Five Elements Accounts for Us All

1 Metal (born in a year ending in 0 or 1)
-helps water but hinders wood; helped by earth but hindered by fire
he used to be totally dull-colored
because he came from the earth’s inside
now he has become a super-conductor
for cold words, hot pictures and light itself
all being transmitted through his throat

2 Water (born in a year ending in 2 or 3)
-helps wood but hinders fire; helped by metal but hindered by earth
with her transparent tenderness
coded with colorless violence
she is always ready to support
or sink the powerful boat
sailing south

3 Wood (born in a year ending 4 or 5)
-helps fire but hinders earth; helped by water but hindered by metal
rings in rings have been opened or broken
like echoes that roll from home to home
each containing fragments of green
trying to tell their tales
from the forest’s depths

4 Fire (born in a year ending 6 or 7)
-helps earth but hinders metal; helped by wood but hindered by water
your soft power bursting from your ribcage
as enthusiastic as a phoenix is supposed to be
when you fly your lipless kisses
you reach out your hearts
until they are all broken

5 Earth (born in a year ending in 8 or 9)
-helps metal but hinders water; helped by fire but hindered by wood
i think not; therefore, I am not
what I am, but I have a color
the skin my heart wears inside out
tattooed intricately
with footprints of history


Chinese Chimes: The Confession of A Calendar
it all began with an animal race Emperor Jade called to amuse himself and his earthly subjects...

Rat
yes, i admit betraying the cat as my only close friend
but i won the race, with my head rather than my legs

Ox
to honor my contract with the yellow sun
i eat green grass, yet give red meat to man

Tiger
as the only feared king of the thick jungle
i am afraid and tired of my own timidness

Rabbit
with my cagey ears held so high
i will not miss a sound of peace

Dragon
although my portraits hung lively above the clouds
no human eyes have ever seen my authentic being

Snake
the moment i sloughed off my old slim self
i forgot ever seducing any manhood in heaven

Horse
my body looks more masculine than a strong man
and my heart feels more feminine than a tender girl

Goat
when i bleat towards the passers-by
i never mean to speak in an other voice

Monkey
each time i try to find any lice in the corner of my mind
i act like the humans outside the fence with barbed wire

Roaster
with my wings plumed with the feathers of night
i can not fly but to crow loudly towards dawn
Dog
given my canine camaraderie and pack mentality
i feel at home before, among or behind soldiers

Pig
i spend all my lifetime wisely
to guard this single moment
----------------------------------------------

Changming Yuan's poems, including those sampled here, have appeared or are forthcomiing in the following publications:


[Australia]: Snorkel, Stylus Poetry Journal;
[Austria]: Poetry Salzburg Review; 
[Canada]: 3 Morning Cup, Ascent Aspiration Magazine, Autumn Leaves, Birth (Anthology), Best Canadian Poetry (2009), Bywords, Canadian Literature, Centrifugal Eye, CV2, the Dalhousie Review, dANDelion, Descant, Earls Court, English 113 F1 (Courseware, Univ. of Alberta), Egregious, Feathertale Review, filling Station, Freefall, Grain, Inscribed, Literary Review of Canada, Marriage (Anthology), Maynard, the Nashwaak Review, the New Chief Tongue, the New Quarterly, One Cool Word, Other C/lutter, Other Voices, Ottawa Arts Review, Poetry Canada, the Prairie Journal, Queen’s Quarterly, Quills Canada Poetry Magazine, Qwerty, Rampike, Ricepaper, Spirituality (Anthology), Wascana Review, Windsor Review, the Writer's Block, Vallum, Vancouver Review, Ygdrasil;
[Cyprus]: Sons of Camus Writers International Journal; 
[Finland]: Nokturno; 
[India]: New Aesthetic, Kritya, Thanal, Taj Mahal Review;
[Italy]: Private: International Review of Black and White Photographs and Texts; 
[New Zealand]: Numinous, Southern Ocean Review;  
[Singapore]: Quarterly Literary Review Singapore; 
[Turkey]: Istanbul Literary Review; 
[UK]: Argotist, Animal Antics(Anthology), Brittle Star, Cadenza, Cannon’s Mouth, the Cortland Review, Current Accounts, Dawntreader, Delinquent, First Time, Greatworks, Interpoetry, the Journal, the London Magazine, Nthposition, Orbis, Parameter, Pennine Ink, Poetic Hours, Pulsar, Winamop, World Strand (Anthology);  
[US]: 31st Bird Review, Alba, Alehouse, the Ampersand Review, Apocryphal Text, Apparatus, Aroostook Review, Barnwood, Barrow Street, Blue Fifth Review, Burst, the Bicycle Review, Byline, Calliope Nerve, the Chaffin Journal, Children, Churches & Daddies, Chrysanthemum, Clockwise Cat, CommonLine, Concelebratory shoehorn Review, Drunken Boat, Exquisite Corpse, Flutter Poetry Journal,  Freefall, Gloom Cupboard, Great American Poetry Show, Gutter Eloquence Magazine, Hamilton Stone Review, Hanging Moss Journal,  Hidden Oak, Hoboeye, Houston Literary Review, IF Poetry Journal, In Our Own Words (Anthology), Intercapillary Space, Iodine Poetry Journal, Joyful!, Kill Poet, King Log, Labletter, Leaf Garden, Listenlight,  Litchaos, Mad Bunkers, Mad Swirl, Milk, Miranda Literary Magazine, Midwest Literary Magazine, Name Calling, Nibble, Offcourse, Oranges &Sardines, Other Voices International Project, Outwarad Link, Past Simple, Pawnshop, Pennsilvania Literary Journal, Peregrine Muse, Pierene's Fountain, Poesia, Poetalk, Porcupine Literary Arts Magazine, Poetry Super Highway, Potomac: A Journal of Poetics and Politics, Press 1, Raving Dove, Remark, Right Hand Pointing, Rock Heals, Saint Elizabeth Street, Saranac Review, Sawbuck, Sentence: A Journal of Prose Poetics, Shelflife, Shoots and Vines, Siren, Snow Monkey, SNReview, Soul to Soul, SPQuill, Stickman Review, Stone's Throw, Stray Branch, Suss, SutbleTea, Tipton Poetry Journal, Triggerfish, Unlikely 2.0, Wheelhouse Magazine, Wild Violet, Willard & Maple, Word Catalyst, Write On.

No comments: