Marilyn Chin was born Mei Ling Chin in Hong Kong. Her family moved to Portland, Oregon, where her father transliterated her name to Marilyn, the subject of her biting, funny poem How I Got That Name.
After graduating from the University of Massachusetts, Chin earned a Master of Fine Arts at the University of Iowa. Her poetry is known for its edge and finesse, often blending Eastern and Western forms as it addresses biculturalism, feminism and Asian identity.
Chin, a professor at San Diego State University, has received a Stegner fellowship, the Pen/Josephine Miles award, four Pushcart prizes, the Patterson prize, a Fulbright fellowship and awards from the Rockefeller Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.
In Hard Love Province, her fourth volume of poetry, she experiments with quatrains, sonnets, haiku, allegories and elegies in precise words whose effect are brazen, icy yet inflamed. Much in the book concerns grief and remembrance of two lovers who have died. Explicitly, Chin honors mentors and influences: Adrienne Rich, Gwendolyn Brooks and Ai. In these lines, Entertainment Weekly wants to interview Emily Dickinson and girls grow horns.
Here is her poem One Child Has Brown Eyes
One child has brown eyes, one has blue
One slanted, another rounded
One so nearsighted he squints internal
One had her extra epicanthic folds removed
One downcast, one couldn’t be bothered
One roams the heavens for a perfect answer
One transfixed like a dead doe, a convex mirror
One shines double-edged like a poison dagger
Understand their vision, understand their blindness
Understand their vacuity, understand their mirth
Hours before accepting her 2015 Anisfield-Wolf award, Marilyn Chin claimed "activist poet" as her mantle: "I've been writing poetry to right the wrongs of the world, to express my Chinese-American sensibility, to work for this utopian American future." Chin, a professor at San Diego State University teaching this year at Smith College, collected the prize for Hard Love Province, her fourth volume of poetry. Juror Rita Dove praised her work as "icy yet inflamed." Her new poem, "Peony," is featured for some 350,000 subscribers to the... Read More →
As Marilyn Chin began her acceptance speech for this year's award for poetry, she looked out in the audience upon former poet laureate and jury member Rita Dove, thanking her for her sisterhood. Dove praised "Hard Love Province," noting, "In these sad and beautiful poems, a withering portrayal of our global ‘society’ emerges – from Buddha to Allah, Mongols to Bethesda boys, Humvee to war horse, Dachau to West Darfu, Irrawaddy River to San Diego.”
As is our tradition, we interview each of our winners prior to the hustle of the evening... Read More →
Anisfield-Wolf award winners are—almost by definition—civic minded.
They continue a generous tradition of adding extra public conversations each September in Cleveland. For those readers whose schedules don’t allow them to attend the awards ceremony or who want more than one chance to hear these gifted writers, here are the details:
Poet Marilyn Chin, a professor at San Diego State University, will read and discuss her work in Hard Love Province. She will appear alongside John Carroll University’s Phil Metres, whose recent book... Read More →
The Cleveland Foundation today announced the winners of its 80th Annual Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards. The 2015 recipients of the only national juried prize for literature that confronts racism and examines diversity are:
• Jericho Brown, The New Testament, Poetry • Marilyn Chin, Hard Love Province, Poetry• David Brion Davis, Lifetime Achievement• Richard S. Dunn, A Tale of Two Plantations: Slave Life and Labor in Jamaica and Virginia, Nonfiction• Marlon James, A Brief History of Seven Killings, Fiction
“The new Anisfield-Wolf... Read More →