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

  • Marilyn Chin, American Book Review Reading Series

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  • IF YOU GO

  • 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

  • EXCERPT

  • 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 ...

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  • EXCERPT

    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."