Thank Live Encounters publishing George Elliott Clarke – Review Seven Nights with the Chinese Zodiac by Anna Yin
Anna Yin is a startling dreamer. Poems that seem Romantic veer into Surrealism or Symbolism. Tutored in Sylvia Plath and William Carlos Williams, among many other poets (mainly American and Canadian), Yin issues poems that are nightmare dreams or dreamy nightmares: Here’s a world where the natural becomes unnatural, the unnatural natural: “the police-monkey escorts a well-suited rat / followed by his cloned brothers…” Some poems are parables, such as the story of a man- a father-who refuses to leave his home, even while it and others are being reduced to rubble: “I received a copy of the photo in the local newspaper. / My father looked so small on the top of the ruins. / It was titled, ‘The Last Temple.’”
In another poem, the speaker says, “You are tired of his / molding, over and over, / thrashing, nailing / into you.” There’s a fierce feminism here, reinforced by readings of Dot Livesay and Dame Atwood. Though it’s tricky following Yin’s wicked, impressionistic juxtapositions, her painterly imagery is deliciously lustrous.
Yin is endlessly perspicacious, endlessly compelling: “The autumn gusts feel warm / as if it’s spring…. / last night by accident I cut my finger… / slowly, on the rice paper, red roses grew.” She brings to Canadian poetry a sense of classicism and aestheticism and minimalism, all nicely mixed up with sensuality.
Yin’s bravura poems – so exquisite and extraordinary – merit bravo upon bravo.
Seven Nights with the Chinese Zodiac
The 4th Poet Laureate of Toronto (2012-15) and the 7th Parliamentary/Canadian Poet Laureate (2016-17), George Elliott Clarke is a revered artist in song, drama, fiction, screenplay, essays, and poetry. Born in Windsor, Nova Scotia, in 1960, Clarke was educated at the University of Waterloo, Dalhousie University, and Queen’s University. Clarke is also a pioneering scholar of African-Canadian literature. A professor of English at the University of Toronto, Clarke has taught at Duke, McGill, the University of British Columbia, and Harvard. He holds eight honorary doctorates, plus appointments to the Order of Nova Scotia and the Order of Canada at the rank of Officer. His recognitions include the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Fellows Prize, the Governor-General’s Award for Poetry, the National Magazine Gold Award for Poetry, the Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction, the Eric Hoffer Book Award for Poetry (US), and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award. Photo Credit of George Elliott Clarke : Harvard University.
Anna Yin was Mississauga’s Inaugural Poet Laureate (2015-2017) and has authored five collections of poetry. Her poems/translations have appeared at ARC Poetry, New York Times, China Daily, CBC Radio, World Journal etc. Anna won the 2005 Ted Plantos Memorial Award, two MARTYs, two scholarships from West Chester University Poetry Conference, three grants from OAC and 2013 Professional Achievement Award from CPAC. She performed her poetry on Parliament Hill and has been featured at 2015 Austin International Poetry Festival and 2017 National poetry month project etc. She teaches Poetry Alive at schools, colleges and libraries. Her website: http://www.annapoetry.com/
© George Elliott Clarke/Anna Yin