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About this poet

Marilyn Chin was born in Hong Kong and raised in Portland, Oregon. She received a BA from the University of Massachusetts and an MFA from the University of Iowa.

She is the author of A Portrait of the Self As Nation: New and Selected Poems (forthcoming 2018, W. W. Norton); Hard Love Province (W.W. Norton, 2014), which won the 2015 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award; Rhapsody in Plain Yellow (W. W. Norton, 2002); The Phoenix Gone, The Terrace Empty (Milkweed Editions, 1994); and Dwarf Bamboo (Greenfiled Review Press, 1987). In addition to writing poetry, she has translated poems by the modern Chinese poet Ai Qing and co-translated poems by the Japanese poet Gozo Yoshimasu. She is also the author of a novel, Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen (W. W. Norton, 2009).

She has won numerous awards for her poetry, including the Radcliffe Institute Fellowship at Harvard, the Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship at Bellagio, two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, the Stegner Fellowship, the PEN/Josephine Miles Award, five Pushcart Prizes, a Fulbright Fellowship to Taiwan, the SeaChange fellowship from the Gaea Foundation, the United Artist Foundation Fellowship, as well as residencies at Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, the Lannan Foundation, and the Djerassi Foundation.

Her work has been featured in a variety of anthologies, including The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry, The Norton Introduction to Poetry, The Oxford Anthology of Modern American Poetry, Unsettling America, The Open Boat, and The Best American Poetry of l996. She was featured in Bill Moyers’ PBS series The Language of Life.

Chin has taught at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and served as guest poet at universities in Singapore, Hong Kong, Manchester, Sydney, and Berlin. In 2018, she was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. She is currently professor emerita at San Diego State University.


Bibliography

Poetry
A Portrait of the Self As Nation: New and Selected Poems (forthcoming 2018, W. W. Norton)
Hard Love Province (W.W. Norton, 2014)
Rhapsody in Plain Yellow (W. W. Norton, 2002)
The Phoenix Gone, The Terrace Empty (Milkweed Editions, 1994)

Prose
Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen (W. W. Norton, 2009)

We Are Americans Now, We Live in the Tundra

Today in hazy San Francisco, I face seaward
Toward China, a giant begonia—

Pink, fragrant, bitten
By verdigris and insects. I sing her

A blues song; even a Chinese girl gets the blues,
Her reticence is black and blue.

Let’s sing about the extinct
Bengal tigers, about giant Pandas—

“Ling Ling loves Xing Xing…yet,
We will not mate. We are

Not impotent, we are important.
We blame the environment, we blame the zoo!”

What shall we plant for the future?
Bamboo, sassafras, coconut palms? No!

Legumes, wheat, maize, old swine
To milk the new.

We are Americans now, we live in the tundra
Of the logical, a sea of cities, a wood of cars.

Farewell my ancestors:
Hirsute Taoists, failed scholars, farewell

My wetnurse who feared and loathed the Catholics,
Who called out

            Now that half-men have occupied Canton
            Hide your daughters, lock your doors!

From Dwarf Bamboo. Copyright © 1987 by Marilyn Chin. Used with the permission of the author.

From Dwarf Bamboo. Copyright © 1987 by Marilyn Chin. Used with the permission of the author.

Marilyn Chin

Marilyn Chin

Marilyn Chin was born in Hong Kong and raised in Portland, Oregon. The author of five poetry collections, she currently serves as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

by this poet

poem

an essay on assimilation

I am Marilyn Mei Ling Chin
Oh, how I love the resoluteness
of that first person singular
followed by that stalwart indicative
of "be," without the uncertain i-n-g
of "becoming."  Of course,
the name had been changed
somewhere between Angel Island and the sea,
when my father
poem
War chariots thunder, horses neigh, the barbarians are coming.
What are we waiting for, young nubile women pointing at the wall,
   the barbarians are coming.
They have heard about a weakened link in the wall. So,
poem
Yellow gold is meaningless
Learning is better than pearls
A woman without brilliance
Leaves nothing but dim children
 
You can hawk your gold if you’re hungry
Sell your mule when you’re desperate
What can you do with so many poems
Sprouting dead hairs in an empty coffin
 
*

Lotus: pink     dewlapped     pretty