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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.

ABR 2014 Spring Lineup

Dana Johnson, Feb. 20 - Johnson is the author of "Elsewhere, California" and "Break Any Woman Down," which won the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction and was a finalist for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. Born and raised in and around Los Angeles, Calif., she is an associate professor of English at the University of Southern California, where she teaches literature and creative writing.

• Alex Espinoza, March 6 - Espinoza has written two books and numerous shorter works. His stories and essays are known for drawing on his Hispanic heritage and describing his assimilation into American culture. "Still Water Saints," his debut novel, was published simultaneously in Spanish and English. His fictional work has been featured in various anthologies and journals such as The Southern California Review, and his essays have appeared in The New York Times.

• Scott Russell Sanders, March 27 - Sanders is the author of 20 books consisting of collections of nonfiction, novels and personal stories. He also is the author of three children's books and is known for his attention to nature and history in his writings. Through the years, he has collected numerous awards for his work, including the Mark Twain Award and the Lannan Literary Award.

Domingo Martinez, April 24 - Martinez is the author of "The Boy King of Texas." The book explores his experience growing up in the border town of Brownsville and the cultural collision of two countries. Martinez was a nominee for the 2013 Pushcart Prize and a finalist for the National Book Award. He will be the 70th speaker the UHV/ABR Reading Series has welcomed to the Victoria community.

Source: University of Houston-Victoria

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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