-Yuan Changming (Chinese way袁昌明), or Changming Yuan (English way), or whatever.
Age? (Feel free to ignore this question completely)
-Getting newly old.
Location and occupation?
-Living in Vancouver, Canada, as a semi-retired private tutor.
How long have you been writing? Do you play an instrument as well?
-Since early August 2004. Used to play erhu, accordion and the Chinese flute quite well, but nothing really well now.
Do you have a specific writing style? Hobbies?
-Hopefully simple and concise. My hobbies include browsing, reading, practicing Chinese calligraphy, singing Beijing Opera, sightseeing, watching Chinese TV dramas though they are mostly low and lousy.
Do you write full-time?
-No, or I would have died pennilessly long ago.
What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment as a writer?
-As a Mandarin speaker who writes mainly in English, I may prove to be the most widely published poetry author from China in the English speaking world today. Considering the fact that I did not begin to learn the English alphabet until I left my native village for Shanghai at age 19 (as an ESL student), this accomplishment has really been hard for me to make.
What is your greatest challenge as a writer?
-Writing long narrative poetry. (While my attention span is very short, I hate long ‘poems.’)
What projects of yours have been recently published? Books or Magazines?
-Some individual pieces accepted most recently by Lullwater Review and Teesta Review.
What are you currently working on and what inspired this work?
-More individual poems. In most cases, I get inspirations from reading experiences.
Where can we find your work?
-Online; simply by googling my name. I do have a personal blogsite, but mainly for archiving my poet-son’s work as well as my own.
How do you react to rejections?
-Always take them lightly like those little clouds passing by high above my roof.
How do you react when one of your submissions is accepted for publication?
-Feel delighted for a whole day, but only in a reserved way because the (new) editor can change his/her mind, or because the magazine may stop operating just when my work is scheduled to appear - I have had quite a few such bad experiences and thus come up with a ‘blacklist’.
What is your best piece of advice on how to stay sane as a writer?
-Do not take anything or anybody too seriously, for no matter what, the earth rotates as usual.
What is your favorite book?
-Hope to find one and buy it at any cost.
Who is your favorite author?
-No one in particular, though Bill Collins and Lorna Crozier have written more poems I like than others.
If you could have dinner with one fictional character, who would it be and why?
-Would rather not do so with any stranger or a non-family member, realistic or fictional.
What is the greatest occupational hazard for a writer?
-Luck, which could extinguish any literary spark (or turn it into a huge fire).
What makes you laugh?
What makes you cry?
What is your preferred drink while you write?
-I don’t drink, not even water while writing.
Beach or Mountains?
-As Confucius says, whoever is kind-hearted loves mountains. (仁者爱山)
Cats or Dogs?
-Never a pet lover.
The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?
-Never had any exposure to either of them.
Jimi Hendrix or Frank Sinatra?
-Unknown to me.
Shakespeare or Bukowski?
Please provide as much or as little of the following information as you’d like. We want to hear about your country, please. Any dangerous wild animals or fish? Why would people like to visit your country?
-Growing up close to the Yangtse River, a mainly hilly county called Songzi (松滋) in Hubei Province, I had an innocent taste of ‘river pig’ (or Chinese river dolphin) at age 14, whose skin turned out too thick and too hard for my teenager teeth, but a few days ago, I happened to read an article saying that the species has officially become extinguished in this world when the last river pig died 22 years after it was caught (and then taken good care of). I would like people to visit my native place, as well as my native land, where there are numerous fantastic sites to see, though most of them are never known to outsiders, let alone foreigners. This fact makes me think of the interesting word ‘sonder’. As in the human case, you would find every river, every mountain, every place, or every day to be a treasure house as long as you are willing to spend time to open and read it. I know China has become an increasingly hot topic nowadays, but how many of those criticizing or even hating China have gained any true or in-depth knowledge of the country?
Though I never really love my native place (mainly because of its terrible climatic conditions and bad cultural environment), though I somehow can neither speak English nor write any poetry whenever visiting my hometown, I have managed to compose some after returning to Canada. Here are several examples:
Visiting the Weisui Lake, Songzi
Exactly the same kind of pine trees
The bushes no less or no more bushy
The same lines of mountain ranges
As irregularly handsome
The waters also composed of h2o
Certainly just as clear and clean
With even more lively fishes swimming
In leisure, but in this unknown valley
How come it has not become a costly resort
Like the famous louise lake there
At the feet of rocky mountains, for instance?
Grown in my native place, the ancient Chu Kingdom, where both Mao Zedong and Qu Yuan were born and raised, the Jingzhou Pepper is the most tasteful pepper in the whole world.
Neither too fat
Nor too skinny
But perfectly in a unique shape
Just hot enough
To make you
A poetic revolutionary like Mao Zedong
Or a revolutionary poet like Qu Yuan
Long Time No Hear
I never knew the names of
These birds, but their voices are far
More familiar than my late playmates’
One sounds like a soprano
Though with only one high-pitched note
Another like a three-toned frog
And a third like five-fold whistling
After nearly half a century, this is the first
And very last time I return to
My native village, in the right season
, We encourage poetry submissions among your fans/friends.
Yuan Changming, author of seven chapbooks, started to learn the English alphabet in Shanghai at age 19 and published monographs on translation before leaving China. With a Canadian PhD in English, Yuan currently lives in Vancouver, where he edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Qing Yuan. Credits include ten Pushcart and three Best of the Net nominations, the 2018 Naji Naaman's Literary Prize, Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17), Best New Poems Online and 1,509 others across 42 countries.
Death Has Arrived
The hooves of the lamb
off in the distance
The fourth seal
has been broken
and I come riding.
A galloping steed
stained with the
sickly pallor of a corpse
And Hades mouth
goes to the bellow
and jaws engulf mankind.
We were given this power
and over a fourth
of this earth.
We will devour our piece
and crunch down
with our beasts of the earth
digesting into brimstone
to nothing but