Changming Yuan like a leaf, like water, like a building seven hundred children tall. (see Changming’s Skyline in our Jan issue)
1) I thought I recognized your name and then I realized you’re one of the first people I published when I worked with the Exquisite Corpse. Reading your bio, I see you’ve been published in almost 600 publications. So I guess it’s not that much of a coincidence. How has your poetry evolved since your first publication?
Thanks so much, dear Ed. DeWitt, for this opportunity to talk about my poetic work, and I feel truly honored! To begin with, poetry seems to run in the blood of my family. When my father died in January of 2012, my mother revealed that he had always wished to be a poet, though he never got anything published during his lifetime. Growing up in an impoverished Chinese village, I fell in love with poetry and dreamed about living like Li Bai at the age of 14 when I had my first exposure to poetry of any kind. Although I did make dozens of poetry submissions in China, I never got even a rejection slip. Luckily, many years after moving to Canada as an international student, I had one of my first English poems published in the summer of 2005 and, ever since then, I have been writing and publishing much more poetry than I myself imagined – thus far, my poetry has appeared in nearly 700 literary journals/anthologies across 26 countries. Also interesting is perhaps that at the age of 15, my teenager younger son Allen Qing Yuan began to publish poetry worldwide, apparently under my influence: Every time I receive a contributor’s copy, I ‘force’ him to take a look at my work and, after much reading, he has turned out an actively publishing poet in his own right. Now we have formed a ‘father-son comraderie in poetry,’ as some editors like to call us, to publish our own newly-started literary magazine called Poetry Pacific (poetrypacific.blogspot.ca), which has been developing surprisingly well – by the way, all poetry submissions are welcome at yuans[at]shaw.ca. While my elder son George Lai Yuan, a busy senior engineer in Silicon Valley, had his first poem published early this year, my poetic work has finally begun to appear in Chinese media since last winter, but ironically only after I became an internationally widely published practitioner of the art.
2) How is your Skyline different when someone else reads it?
For me, every reading (of the same work) is a new poem. Each time my Skyline is read, it may look more like a monster’s mouth, a dream vision, a meeting line between sea and coast, or a limbo between hell and heaven, depending upon the reader’s frame of mind.