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ABR author uses stories to talk about maternal families, feminism, fish (w/audio)

By Carolina Astrain
Jan. 26, 2014 at 10:05 p.m.
Updated Jan. 25, 2014 at 7:26 p.m.


WHAT: Marilyn Chin, American Book Review Reading Series

WHEN: Noon Thursday

WHERE: Alcorn Auditorium, University West, University of Houston-Victoria, 3007 N. Ben Wilson St.

COST: Free


Here's an excerpt from Marilyn Chin's collection of poetry, "Hard Providence: Poems."

From "Beautiful Boyfriend"

My skiff is made of spicewood my oars are Cassia bract

Music flows from bow to starboard

Early Mozart cool side of Coltrane and miles and miles of Miles

Cheap Californian Merlot and my young boyfriend

If I could master the nine doors of my body

And close my heart to the cries of suffering

Perhaps I could love you like no other

Float my mind toward the other side of hate

The shanty towns of Tijuana sing for you

The slums of Little Sudan hold evening prayer

One dead brown boy is a tragedy

Ten thousand is a statistic

So let's f--- my love until the dogs pass

All beautiful boyfriends are transitory

They have no souls they're shiny brown flesh

Tomorrow they'll turn into purple festering corpses

Fissured gored by a myriad flies

Down the Irrawaddy River you lay yourself to sleep

No sun no moon no coming no going

No causality no personality

No hunger no thirst

Malarial deltas typhoidal cays

Tsunamis don't judge Calamity grieves no one

The poor will be submerged the rich won't be saved

Purge the innocent sink the depraved

What do I smell but the perfume of transience

Crushed calyxes rotting phloems

Let's write pretty poems pretty poems pretty poems

Masque stale pogroms with a sweet whiff of oblivion

Source: Marilyn Chin

Author Marilyn Chin writes for the wild-girl generation, as she's coined it.

Wild girls, as the Chinese-American author describes, are third-wave feminists who embody the new woman.

Chin, who recently retired from the University of San Diego, will give a reading Thursday at the University of Houston-Victoria.

Her visit is part of the university's American Book Review Reading Series, funded in part by local movers and shakers and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Chin's grandmother, who raised her granddaughters with an iron first, served as her inspiration for her most recent wild-girl book, "Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen."

"Grandmothers are taking over, especially in immigrant families," Chin said. "Grandmothers take charge of families and child-rearing because parents are usually so busy working two or three jobs."

In "Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen," Chin writes a fictional account of a Chinese grandmother who slaps an orange carp to death in protest of a Japanese water garden given to the city of San Francisco by Emperor Hirohito, of Japan.

After killing the fish against a commemorative plaque, the grandmother takes the fish home and cooks it for her granddaughters.

"Millions of Chinese people died during the war against Imperial Japan," Chin said. "She felt she had the right to take a fish and take it home and eat it."

Several of Chin's stories in "Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen" take on a humorous, yet dark look at the history of Chinese immigrants assimilating to American culture.

Her new collection of poems, "Hard Love Providence: Poems," hits bookstore shelves this summer and moves away from the grandmother theme and toward the subject of love.

Chin is working on more tales inspired by the days of when her grandmother ran a Chinese restaurant in Oregon and others with a tinge of terror.

"I'm writing some spookier tales," Chin said. "They're fun-loving, but they're kind of scary."



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