Marilyn Chin

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Marilyn Chin

Goodreads Author

Hong Kong



Member Since
November 2013

Marilyn Chin is an award-winning poet and the author of Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen, Rhapsody in Plain Yellow, The Phoenix Gone, the Terrace Empty and Dwarf Bamboo. Her writing has appeared in The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry.

She was born in Hong Kong and raised in Portland, Oregon. Her books have become Asian American classics and are taught in classrooms internationally. Marilyn Chin has read her poetry at the Library of Congress. She was interviewed by Bill Moyers’ and featured in his PBS series The Language of Life and in PBS Poetry Everywhere.

Average rating: 3.8 · 1,778 ratings · 223 reviews · 19 distinct worksSimilar authors
Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen

3.57 avg rating — 686 ratings — published 2009 — 8 editions
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Go Home!

3.94 avg rating — 268 ratings — published 2018 — 3 editions
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Rhapsody in Plain Yellow: P...

3.91 avg rating — 138 ratings — published 2002
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Hard Love Province: Poems

3.83 avg rating — 84 ratings — published 2014 — 4 editions
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The Phoenix Gone, the Terra...

3.96 avg rating — 68 ratings — published 1994 — 2 editions
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A Portrait of the Self as N...

3.96 avg rating — 67 ratings — published 2018 — 4 editions
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Dwarf Bamboo

3.93 avg rating — 28 ratings — published 1994
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Prairie Schooner (Fall 2012)

it was amazing 5.00 avg rating — 3 ratings — published 2012
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Writing From The World:  Ii...

liked it 3.00 avg rating — 1 rating — published 1985 — 2 editions
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More books by Marilyn Chin…
Triumph of the Sp...
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Mishima: A Vision...
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Bird by Bird: Som...
Marilyn Chin is currently reading
by Anne Lamott (Goodreads Author)
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Quotes by Marilyn Chin  (?)
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“All that blooms must fall.”
Marilyn Chin, The Phoenix Gone, the Terrace Empty

“How I Got That Name
Marilyn Chin
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 the paperson
in the late 1950s
obsessed with a bombshell blond
transliterated “Mei Ling” to “Marilyn.”
And nobody dared question
his initial impulse—for we all know
lust drove men to greatness,
not goodness, not decency.
And there I was, a wayward pink baby,
named after some tragic white woman
swollen with gin and Nembutal.
My mother couldn’t pronounce the “r.”
She dubbed me “Numba one female offshoot”
for brevity: henceforth, she will live and die
in sublime ignorance, flanked
by loving children and the “kitchen deity.”
While my father dithers,
a tomcat in Hong Kong trash—
a gambler, a petty thug,
who bought a chain of chopsuey joints
in Piss River, Oregon,
with bootlegged Gucci cash.
Nobody dared question his integrity given
his nice, devout daughters
and his bright, industrious sons
as if filial piety were the standard
by which all earthly men are measured.


Oh, how trustworthy our daughters,
how thrifty our sons!
How we’ve managed to fool the experts
in education, statistic and demography—
We’re not very creative but not adverse to rote-learning.
Indeed, they can use us.
But the “Model Minority” is a tease.
We know you are watching now,
so we refuse to give you any!
Oh, bamboo shoots, bamboo shoots!
The further west we go, we’ll hit east;
the deeper down we dig, we’ll find China.
History has turned its stomach
on a black polluted beach—
where life doesn’t hinge
on that red, red wheelbarrow,
but whether or not our new lover
in the final episode of “Santa Barbara”
will lean over a scented candle
and call us a “bitch.”
Oh God, where have we gone wrong?
We have no inner resources!


Then, one redolent spring morning
the Great Patriarch Chin
peered down from his kiosk in heaven
and saw that his descendants were ugly.
One had a squarish head and a nose without a bridge
Another’s profile—long and knobbed as a gourd.
A third, the sad, brutish one
may never, never marry.
And I, his least favorite—
“not quite boiled, not quite cooked,"
a plump pomfret simmering in my juices—
too listless to fight for my people’s destiny.
“To kill without resistance is not slaughter”
says the proverb. So, I wait for imminent death.
The fact that this death is also metaphorical
is testament to my lethargy.


So here lies Marilyn Mei Ling Chin,
married once, twice to so-and-so, a Lee and a Wong,
granddaughter of Jack “the patriarch”
and the brooding Suilin Fong,
daughter of the virtuous Yuet Kuen Wong
and G.G. Chin the infamous,
sister of a dozen, cousin of a million,
survived by everbody and forgotten by all.
She was neither black nor white,
neither cherished nor vanquished,
just another squatter in her own bamboo grove
minding her poetry—
when one day heaven was unmerciful,
and a chasm opened where she stood.
Like the jowls of a mighty white whale,
or the jaws of a metaphysical Godzilla,
it swallowed her whole.
She did not flinch nor writhe,
nor fret about the afterlife,
but stayed! Solid as wood, happily
a little gnawed, tattered, mesmerized
by all that was lavished upon her
and all that was taken away!”
Marilyn Chin

“Moon grew up, lost weight and became a famous singer, which proves that there is no justice in the universe, or that indeed, there is justice. Your interpretation of the denouement mostly depends on your race, creed, hair color, social and economic class and political proclivities -- whether or not you are a revisionist feminist and have a habit of cheering for the underdog. What is the moral of the story? Well, it's a tale of revenge, obviously written from the Chinese American girl's perspective. My intentions are to veer you away from teasing and humiliating little chubby Chinese girls like myself. And that one wanton act of humiliation you perpetrated on the fore or aft of that boat on my arrival may be one humiliating act too many.

For although we are friendly neighbors, you don't really know me. You don't know the depth of my humiliation. And you don't know what I can do. You don't know what is beneath my doing.”
Marilyn Chin, Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen

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“We never sleep. What will happen when all grandmas run out of fire? We can’t die. We die, nobody take care of you.”
Marilyn Chin, Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen

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