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ABR author gives expressive reading of work from memory (w/video)

By Carolina Astrain
Jan. 30, 2014 at 8:03 p.m.
Updated Jan. 30, 2014 at 7:31 p.m.

Chinese-American author Marilyn Chin gives an expressive reading of her poem, "How I Got That Name," at the University of Houston-Victoria's American Book Review Reading Series on Thursday.

A jade bracelet dangled from Marilyn Chin's wrist as she raised her arms while reciting an essay from memory.

"And there I was, a wayward pink baby," said the Chinese-American author in an expressive tone. "Named after some tragic white woman swollen with gin and Nembutal."

Chin read from her collection of poetry and fiction Thursday afternoon as part of the University of Houston-Victoria and American Book Review Reading Series.

The author, a recently retired professor from the University of San Diego, recited two pieces from memory and kept her audience captive with her stories tinged with themes of assimilation, romance and the cycle of life.

As Chin flapped her arms in the air and raised her voice with each inflection, the tassels on her red boots moved to her rhythm.

"I try to tell my students that much of poetry is an aural tradition," Chin said. "It's important to hear it as well as see it on the page."

The author also read from her new collection of poems coming out this summer, "Hard Love Providence."

The author said she likes to keep poetry from the Tang Dynasty on her shelf to remind herself of her Chinese roots.

Diana Lopez, UHV assistant professor of creative writing, asked Chin how she chooses her genres.

"What informs your choice?" Lopez asked.

"I like using ancient text and using them to say something new in a modern context," Chin said. "I love cross-dressing into different genres."

Peggy Titt, a frequent audience member at the reading series, thanked the author for her reading at the close of the presentation.

Titt made reference to Chin's poem, "Blues on Yellow," written in the style of the African-American aural tradition.

"The yellow in your skin is the sun shining down on you," Titt said. "Thank you for your poetry."



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