Wednesday, 29 April 2015

yuan changming: new collection to appear

last saturday, on april 23, my seattle-based american poet friend Koon Woon, author of award-winning Chasing the Waters, kindly offered to publish a poetry collection for me with his Goldfish Press.

on april 24, i prepared some 60 poems titled Kinship: For Yuan Hongqi and Liu Yu, and sent it to him with the 'table' page, 'ack' page and 'about' page. every poem is written about, for or to one of my family members. while most of them are based on essentially true experiences, some are on imagined or dreamed experiences. some of those to, for or about my late father Yuan Hongqi and my mother Liu Yu are actually among the best-received pieces i have written. among the 60 some pieces, at least 50 have already been published individually online or in print.

yesterday, Koon told me that after ten days of waiting we will get the proof. hopefully it will come out sometime in may.

this will be my fifth collection. i never give a dame about how many copies can be sold -- i know few of the vast majorities of poetry collections by most poetry writers are actually sold or even read outside their core social circles,  but i want to do something not only to show my gratitude to Koon for his kind invitation, but also to pay 'tributes' to my family members.

at 5:00 pm today, i am going to read three poems with my younger poet son Allen Qing Yuan as scheduled on DC Poetry Project: the Power of Poetics, a blogtalk show hosted by renowned dc-based american poet Michael Anthony Ingram.

i am quite nervous about the reading event. because of some bad experience with the telephone and my health condition (a red light or a telephone ring can make me jumpy or nervous), my listening comprehension becomes poorer the moment i pick up a phone to communicate in english...

yuan changming: village photos

archived below are the photos i took of the village, known as 'lianhuadang,' where i grew up, attending primary and junior high school, basically from 1963 to 1972 ...

the plant i mostly gathered for the pig my household tried to raise

the plant said to make a dick swollen, which all village boys avoided touching

yam leaves, delicious to pigs

rice fields, often filled with leeches, where i sometimes worked after school

hot cotton fields, where i was always slow in picking the flowers

moon above the country, now more in my memory than in the reality

i felt a sense of kinship with cotton fields when i returned in  october 2014

my primary school, now torn down but still with a later-built brick fence
photo taken in 2007 with my poet younger son 

the primary school i attended, with a later-built gate and fence
photo taken with my 12-year-old younger son in the summer of 2007

the chicken house we had in our house, the wall has been modernized

the broom used to clean the room's mudfloor...

the house i lived in while attending junior high school
 which used to have a thatched roof and mud walls

my father's tomb in my uncle's vegetable garden, taken in october 2014

tomb-visiting: fire crackers burned in honor of my father
photo taken in october 2014

my father's tomb, photo taken in october 2014

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Changming to Appear in a Blog Show

forgot to mention last time::

on april 5, i received a kind invitation from well-known american poet Catfish McDaris to participate in a blog show guest-hosted by him at 8:00 pm eastern time on 29 april. the dc-based blog talk radio is hosted by poet professor Michael Anthony Ingram, while the program is called the dc poetry project. i will read three poems (as pasted below) first in chinese and then in english. initially i was very hesitant, for i am always more nervous over the phone than on site - in particular, i am so nervous when communicating in english on the phone that my listening comprehension becomes too poor to understand what people are saying. however, with the mother's day approaching, i want to pay tribute to my mom.

program: the power of poetics
time: 8:00 pm eastern time, 29 april 2015

yesterday, Catfish kindly encouraged my younger son Allen to participate in the reading event as well. also, the friendly american poet has recommended us father-son comraderie to co-guest host the program. i am still hesitating about this, but for Allen's sake, we might take the challenge...




To escape from the tyrannical logic
Of your mother tongue
You wandered, wandering
Through earth’s length and breadth
Subjecting your old self to another syntax
A whole set of grammatical rules
Strangely new to your lips and tips
To expand the map of your mind
Far beyond your home and haven
Yet in the meantime it becomes colonized
By all the puzzling paradoxes
Of this chosen language, for example:
Quicksand can be very slow
Boxing rings are in fact square
And a guinea pig is neither a pig
Nor is it from Guinea
Like you or me






On Mother’s Day: for Liu Yu

Rather than composing poetry
To commemorate you after you are gone
I am now writing, dear Mom
To pay my highest tribute to you
As one of the hardest-fated on earth

 Yes, among the many death experiences you’ve had
The most significant one for me (and my sons)
Was your sickness you suffered at two, which was so
Severe that your poor and ignorant foster mother
Could do nothing but put you on a flat basket
And return your living corpse to your bio-creator

But for your step father, who used his shamanic skills
To contain the evil spirit and drive it to an unknown
Corner, you would have died like a doomed sapling
(That’s why your name is changed to ‘Refound’)

So, stay well, Mom, and remain hardy for us!






Single Last Sale

You’ve long since sold out
Both your sweat and blood
Now you try to sell your heart
Though nobody wants it

Some say the blood is not red enough
Others find the chambers too narrow
Still others think the coronary arteries
Stained with too many feelings

You peddle around, chanting aloud
From street to street
With your heart still fresh
Beating like a frog in your hands

You hope to sell it for a glass of water
Just to cool down your burning voice
So you do not have to sell your soul
Like all other hawkers in the market
Well satiated, but hardly heart-felt

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

april updates: yuan's lit endeavors

1. finally, by the end of last month, i had had my poetry accepted by or published in more than 1,000 literary outlets across 32 countries - it was quite amazing to myself. when i tried to write english poetry in early august 2004, i had no idea that i could have gone so far, and i am still going, though through a limbo or dilemma period for the time being;

2. i am really tired of having to make poetry subs, but without taking this exhausting and boring step, i cannot hope to get my work out there to be read. indeed, i always enjoy the creating part of the job, but i hate the process of getting my work out of my little ivory tower. what's to be done next? just to continue writing, and let my work squat on the corner of my file box?

3. maybe i should try to write prose work now. i have always wanted to write a novel, or some short stories, but prose writing entails more attention and especially more time with the computer. this has been making me hesitate for long enough: my attention span is short; my eye condition forces me to minimize my computer time; and it will take more time, effort and patience to get any prosework published...

4. this morning when i opened my linkedin account, i received an invitation by Frank Joussen, a german author/editor, to send some family-themed prosework to his Anthology to be released in december. excited, i sent along my first and only short story 'ancestor worshipping,' which i wrote from my poet teenage son's perspective in 2008, one year after we had our joint china trip to our ancestor's home in shisan village, hanyang county. interestingly, Frank accepted the piece right away and gave me particularly encouraging comments, which end:  'I was only disappointed when I´d reached the end, I would have loved to go on reading - so maybe you´ll write a sequel one day? You or your son may submit again if you wish; I´d be delighted.' - isn't this an encouraging moment to begin to write more prosework?

5. these are all the prose works i have thus far written in english: 
- 1 short story 'ancestor worshipping' (i published a poem with the same title, and roughly same content in the canadian magazine grain); 
- 1 what chinese poets usually refer to as 'poetry talk,' titled 'die in poetry, or live forever,' published in the volta ( and to be included in progressive poetics; (i also published a poem with a similar title 'die there, or live forever' in teh sangam magazine (;
- 1 travelogue with the title of 'china revisited' which was published in us-china review in 2013 ( Changming, “China Revisited,” XXXIV, 3, 17-18);

6. the 400-page hardcover book create abundance is well on the way; as its translator and publisher, i have been undergoing more trouble or frustration than i am ever prepared for: the author/her representative is sometimes as unreasonably demanding, willful and irrespectful as those infamous chinese upstarters, the printer's formatter and editor in charge of layouts are careless, unprofessional and inefficient, while the import procedure involves much more business work than i ever want to expose myself to - one word, i have bitten more than i can chew this time; hopefully the e.galley is completed tonight and will go onto the machine in a couple of days; hopefully 30,000 copies will arrive in mid-may from shenzhen without creating more problems...

7. i have written about 130 mini blog essays in chinese. i post one each monday, and have created a quite loyal readership of around 300 - but for the hoster/editor's censorship, i would have had a much larger readership ( i have observed that if my mini-essays were not 'censored' or intentionally 'kept down,' there should be at least 1,000 hits for each single posting). most commentators are as impolite as they have poor thinking and writing skills, but i do not care. all i want to do is just to put into chinese characters everything i have observed and thought about chinese culture, chinese personality or chinese tradition, especially about the weakness or ugliness of the chinese as a modern nation

8. should i begin to write prose in english?

Sunday, 5 April 2015

[archived]: Alphabetic Poems by Yuan Changming ©

The Origin of Letters

By Yuan  Changming 

As the first born to the Semitic family
A was originally a picture of an alef or ox, the
Agricultural energy that was rotated twice until
Alpha loomed up in the Greek psychoscape even before
Adam became the chosen father of all Europeans close to
Athens, where Apollo had acupunctured wisdom and knowledge into
Aristotle, the intellectual ancestor of modern man, who inspired
Alexander to make the first effort of globalization, which did not reach East
Asia, the land of Ah Q’s, the largest hotel for
All travelers until centuries later, but it is
Atomic bombs that will blow up all our pasts and send us through
America to a higher civilization, where the drop of an
Apple is to enable us to fly to the other side of the universe
Along the cosmic string as
Africa, the heart of human darkness
Awaits for Buddha, Jesus, Allah or
An other unknown author to come and rotate for the third time
A scarlet letter of


boy, boy! britain begins beating brazil badly behind belrus' back, because bipedal britons believe brazilians behave better before boys become barbaric; beyond blue borders, bill's big bully boss blatantly breaks bounds by betraying blood-bound brotherhood, but bill's best biographer belies books braving bellicose breeds between balanced buoyancies.

beach birds besides boulders beget babies below beautiful bushes...


a Phoenician throw-stick
held high in his right hand
the Egyptian basket
lying far beyond his reach
what was, what is
the Chinese peasant
trying to do
in his story?


it is
neither a door
nor a delta
it is nothing, anything
but a hand
trying desperately
to open the door to the delta
when every reed bows down deeply 


born to be a double reed
that can be bent
into a long vowel
the most frequently used letter
in english, echoing endlessly
in silences

if pulled down, it offers two doors
one leading to Soul via will, the other
to Him via wisdom; if turned up right
it forms a mountain with three peaks
like three holy swords, pointing high
one against the sun
one against the moon
one against the sky

Facing always towards the east, it embraces
existence, equality, eternity, emancipation...


as in fragrant flowers
that keep flirting with sunlight
on a French afternoon

forwarded to the future
will be a foiled fairytale
about France, as it tries to
catch a deformed viper
with an ancient hook


Gives us all the glories of
God, Godot, the gorilla
Amidst the gamers, constantly
Reminding us of George
Germany, the G-spot,


inspired by a fence in hell
you were invented long ago
to connect every human
for a tall ladder of hope
that we can stand high
against the blue horizon
like the Babel Tower growing to reach Him
where I can find a home in the fame hall
where I can settle my soul in heaven


To begin with
The hieroglyphical origin of
My identity was simply no body
But a common reed
Bowing its head to the rising sun
On the barren bank of the Nile

Slim, tall, hollow-hearted
Standing against tropical heat
Until one day 'I' was used
As a human symbol, an open vowel
Referring to the speaker
And since then I have become
One of the most frequently spelt letters
In the linguistic order of the day
Always capitalized
To embody my dignity
Though I am nothing
But a common reed
That could have been made into a flute


a small cobra coiled
in a big pyramid's shape
always read to bite

just like Japan
just like Justice  


an other basket
you hold anything having a shape
but sand or water
*          *
for all your knighthood
you keep quiet before knowledge
but never the king


with an open angle
you embraces all legends
about light and lions


despite your body
as imposing as a massive mountain
you have a mindset
hidden deeply
in the wisdom of a little owl
in the plasticities of a drop of water


No, nobody knows this
But you are really no more
Or no less than the old
Egyptian metonymy of
A stream, river, lake, sea or
Even an entire ocean, where
There is always water , where
There are always fish
Rather than a synecdochic Z
Pushed straight upright
On the bank of the Euphrates


a rope loop propped up with hope
to lasso words running amuck

a mouth reshaped, repositioned
to pronounce the roundest vowel


not really a stoop
but a flag fluttering there
followed by pi rates


a chord, made of sunlight
instead of grass
will lead each climber to the peak
though few can find it
on the hillside
beside the question


residing near their summer resort
through her entire year
after their marriage, (for better or for worse)
russian author catherine tries narrating
her bearish story from their wintery perspective
where her major concerns are perhaps
wrapping gershwin's rhapsody
around hieroglyphic spring sprouts


with a double hook
the sexist, the most charming shape
looking more like a naked woman
in postmodern art
than folded cloth used to cover her body
in an Egyptian tale

always ready to


the Egyptian loaf
far off the Phoenician mark
is still edible now


u is surely a part of you, while
you sound no more than a single letter
u, which is nothing but a copy of a chick
you used to be on the bank of the Nile, where
u can be changed into
v within an european word as in yvan; it's said
you have the makings of a
victor, a us or un representative who begins the
uniform, university, universe.


with the shape of victory
you are a viper in essence:
each victory is a  poisonous snake


pecking around a lion
only the little chick
knows the word's worth
as it writes the worlds' story
with its feet printed on the ground
rather than on a papyrus


only when two straight roads meet
at an intersection, or

only when you cross the road
crossing the border can you
understand why Christ's body is
nailed on the cross, but his soul
rises high above the land


You are haunted by ‘Y’, not because it’s the
First letter in your family name, but because
It’s like a horn, which the water buffalo in your
Native village uses to fight against injustice
Or, because it’s like a twig, where a crow
Can come down to perch, a cicada can sing
Towards the setting sun as loud as it wants to
More important, in Egyptian hieroglyphics
It stands for a real reed, something you can
Bend into a whistle or flute; in pronouncing it
You can get all the answers you need, besides
You can make it into a heart-felt catapult
And shoot at a snakehead or sparrow, as long
As it is within the range of your boyhood


in opposite directions:
you are not so much like
a weird weapon, a manacle, or
a bolt for fastening the flood
of the Nile in ancient logography
as like a postmodern zebra
zigzagging with zeal
like a zealot trying to pass

through an inflated zero