Saturday, March 14, 2015

Poem of the Day: “Egg: Outlining the Chinese History in English” by Changming Yuan

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Egg: Outlining the Chinese History in English” by Changming Yuan.  Dr. Yuan grew up in a remote village in China.  He began to learn the English alphabet at the age of nineteen and went on to earn a PhD in English.  He published several monographs on English-Chinese translation before leaving China for Canada.

Dr. Yuan has been nominated for a Pushcart eight times and is the author of four chapbooks.  His poetry has appeared in 989 literary publications across thirty-one countries, including Best Canadian Poetry, BestNewPoemsOnline, Cincinnati Review, and Threepenny Review, in addition to several appearances in Songs of Eretz Poetry Review.  He works as a tutor in Vancouver and is the co-editor of Poetry Pacific.

The mission of Poetry Pacific is similar to that of Songs of Eretz.  Readers and contributors to one would no doubt enjoy the other.  Find out more about Poetry Pacific here:

Egg*: Outlining the Chinese History in English
Changming Yuan
1/ Ancient China

They used to drink tea
Wear silk
Eat from china
Think in terms of zen
And practice Confucianism

Only - is it true?

2/ Semi-Colonial China

Wearing cheongsam
These poor coolies arrived here
On sampans
Always ready to kowtow
To a tycoon
Who lived in Shangri-La
Eating dim sum
Drinking oolong
Playing mahjong
Gambling in a casino every day
Though reluctant to give cumshaw

3/ Mandarin China

Led by dao
Running dog
Wearing qipao
Is fighting against a yang
Paper tiger
With wushu
After getting brainwashed
Through maotai
Like a taikongnaut
At a fengshui spot
Dominated by qi

*A word (or person) with a Chinese origin living in the West is often called an ‘egg,’ which is white-skinned, but yellow-hearted. 

Poet’s Comment:  This piece is one of my favorite language poems.  There is much sociopolitical and historical content woven into its fabric. 

Editor’s Note:  Dr. Yuan has done a clever job of working the Chinese idioms into this poem.  Egg: Outlining the Chinese History in English” was first published in ARC and reprinted in Asia Literary Review.

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