poem index

poet

Marilyn Chin

Hong Kong , United States
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Marilyn Chin

Marilyn Chin was born in Hong Kong and raised in Portland, Oregon. Her books of poetry have become Asian American classics and are taught in classrooms internationally. They include: 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). She is also the author of a novel, Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen (W. W. Norton, 2009).

Chin has won numerous awards for her poetry, including ones from the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She has received a Stegner Fellowship, the PEN/Josephine Miles Award, four Pushcart Prizes, the Paterson Prize, a Fulbright Fellowship to Taiwan, as well as residencies at Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, the Lannan Residency, 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.

She has read and taught workshops all over the world. Recently, she taught at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and was guest poet at universities in Singapore, Hong Kong, Manchester, Sydney and Berlin and elsewhere. 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. Presently, she is writing a book of poetic tales. She co-directs the MFA program at San Diego State University.

by this poet

poem
One child has brown eyes, one has blue
One slanted, another rounded
One so nearsighted he squints internal 
One had her extra epicanthic folds removed
One downcast, one couldn't be bothered
One roams the heavens for a perfect answer
One transfixed like a dead doe, a convex mirror
One shines double-edged like a
poem

Why must I tell you this story, O little one
You’re just a bud-of-a-girl, who knows nothing

Now you are full-faced, bright as sun
Now you open your skirts pink, layered, brazen

Suffering is alchemy, change is God
Now you droop your head, heavy with rust

Sit, contemplate, what did

2
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