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Tuesday April 20, 2010 in Books
Weyman Chan’s second poetry collection elaborates his singular and solitary work on the renaissance of the contemporary lyric form. Unmistakably present in these poems are the sensibilities of Li Po, wherein the powers of nature illuminating a meticulously built landscape articulate a poignant, harmonious but fleeting epiphany; Keats’ vision of beauty as an act of passion inscribed on a work of art for all time; and Ovid’s understanding that our engagement with the world always demands of us a metamorphosis, the inescapably wondrous child of a marriage of the self and the other.
The lyric voice of these poems, the sage of our hearts and minds, reveals a multiplicity of forms in shaded clearings between myth and mystery, and especially in the musicality encountered by the reader in the poet’s carefully crafted score of the written word. Kissed and séanced into being, these subtle and seamless poems cast long shadows on our worldly marketplace of war, our arenas of competition and the haunting absence of our spiritually dispossessed gods.
As Weyman Chan crafts words for his stratified layers of landscape across space and time, a path is made for the reader to follow. Beneath the narrative foliage of Chinese pre-history, family stories of love and survival, and wanderings from the compass point of the conventional, our sage “teaches all / and leaves none out”—what it takes to enter this new world is our willingness to travel with some unlikely spirit guides: a five-thousand-year-old, elixir-wearied Lunar rabbit; an old man who wears the sun’s countenance; a microscopist in search of constellations in the illusion of darkness beyond death.
This book is an intimate journey of rituals attempting to find their origin, where past and future are seen to conjoin to construct one biography in a fractured and disbelieving age.
ISBN 13: 9780889226265 | ISBN 10: 889226261
6 W x 9 H x 0.26 D inches | 104 pages
$17.95 CAN / $17.95 US
Backlist | Poetry | Bisac: POE000000
QUOTES OF NOTE
“The deepest blues on prairie snow are Weyman Chan’s inks, his pen as precise and as elusive as the silken threads of ’a tiny spider,’ who ’ lifts its abdomen / positions its centre / and sails off into the thin parachute / of the air we call a nation.’”
“What’s magnificent here is that Weyman Chan has not shied from his history. This book carries at its heart the China he is a generation removed from. True agents of insurrection, these poems mix their languages, making the ordinary world mysterious: ’Calm,’ he writes, ’is what all desire wants.’ In the end, every insurrection must be for something, too. For me, Weyman offers that point in Uncle Dong Gei, 104 years old ’who just keeps going.’ It’s his face that gives the image not just of this book and its writer, but of the relationship between poetry and its poets.”
“Language here has no home but a traveller’s duffel, shifting to accommodate, offering love where all logic suggests there should be none.”
”The condition of ’noise’ in these poems can be heard in the fine tuning of deep need. The ’laundry’ is, of course, that image-laden triangle of diasporic memory, history, and desire. Weyman Chan scans the range of frequencies that cling to skin, name, family, and place in a poetry of openness and attention grounded ’always,’ as he says, in the ’inkline / unwinding under hell’ and ’poured like water / on my need to know.’ Turn on the poetry radio in this book and tune into its ’scurfing rumour’!
“The question of how to act with integrity underlies many of his poems, which are less like linear narratives than intricate reveries richly threaded with reminiscences, dreams, musings on his cultural heritage … Chan’s poems are … as delicate and resonant as [a] paper crane.”
“Chan is as fragile as a dandelion seed ball and as strong as granite. He knows that we possess little besides the air in our lungs and the blood in our veins, and we must take tender care of those around us.”
Finalist for the 2009 Acorn Plantos Award for People’s Poetry
Finalist for the 2008 Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry
About the ContributorsWeyman Chan
Weyman Chan was born in Calgary, Alberta, in 1963, to immigrant parents from China. Chan wrote his first poem when he was thirteen years old. He has published poems and short stories in a wide variety of literary journals and anthologies. He won the 2002 National Magazine Awards silver prize for his poem “At work,” and the 2003 Alberta Book Award for his first book of poetry, Before a Blue Sky Moon. His second book, Noise From the Laundry, was a finalist for the 2008 Governor General’s Award for Poetry and the 2009 Acorn-Plantos Award for People’s Poetry.
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts; the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF); and the Province of British Columbia through the British Columbia Arts Council for our publishing activities.