Marilyn Chin

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Marilyn Chin

Goodreads Author


Born
Hong Kong
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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: 3.81 · 1,538 ratings · 196 reviews · 17 distinct worksSimilar authors
Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen

3.56 avg rating — 601 ratings — published 2009 — 7 editions
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Rhapsody in Plain Yellow: P...

3.93 avg rating — 123 ratings — published 2002
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Hard Love Province: Poems

3.84 avg rating — 67 ratings — published 2014 — 4 editions
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The Phoenix Gone, the Terra...

3.95 avg rating — 66 ratings — published 1994 — 2 editions
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A Portrait of the Self as N...

really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 42 ratings — published 2018 — 4 editions
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Dwarf Bamboo

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

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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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Charlie Chan is Dead: An An...

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3.97 avg rating — 199 ratings — published 1993
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Go Home!

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3.98 avg rating — 202 ratings — published 2018 — 3 editions
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More books by Marilyn Chin…

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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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Marilyn’s Recent Updates

A Portrait of the Self as Nation by Marilyn Chin
"This collection is fantastic. I love the mix of satirical poems and political/social poems. It was especially wonderful to read after hearing Marilyn Chin read/perform some of the poems. Some of the poems are very gripping and some are laugh out loud" Read more of this review »
Rhapsody in Plain Yellow by Marilyn Chin
"Chin's Rhapsody in Plain Yellow is musical (as alluded to in the title), wild and unspooled at times, and formal and subdued at others. The book is a romp through culture, family, interracial love, politics and identity, and she is not afraid to be e" Read more of this review »
A Portrait of the Self as Nation by Marilyn Chin
"I especially loved the imagined letters written to her by her family members. Brilliant! "
Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen by Marilyn Chin
"Near perfect. Irreverent and fun, wordplay without the annoying postmodern garbage (well mostly), light yet rooted, still, in ancient folklore, Buddhist scriptures, or simply Chinese beliefs, and in the Great American Dream. Sometimes the narrative i" Read more of this review »
Marilyn Chin is accepting questions on her profile page.
Marilyn Chin is now following Terry and Katya Kazbek
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Triumph of the Sparrow by Shinkichi Takahashi
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Mishima by Marguerite Yourcenar
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More of Marilyn's books…
“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

“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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“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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