Another page turner, Wang Ping’s of flesh & spirit from Coffee House Press is amazing. Published in 1998 and picked up in the library, this volume has poems that vibrate your soul to the core and often have prose paragraphs explaining Ms. Ping’s origin. You learn about the societal nuances of China and their feelings towards women and you can feel Wang Ping’s anger in her works. You also learn of her struggles to find her way in America and the frustrations of tracing the female side of her family tree. For such an amazing poet there is surprisingly little about her featured on the internet. I was disappointed that poets.org and Poetry Foundation had nothing on her. I’ll also admit that I am afraid to review this book because it is so powerful that any words I may use will fail to explain the enormity of each poem. However, I will try to give you a taste by reviewing a poem and allowing you to watch her read her work via the you-tube link provided below.
One poem that really struck me is titled “What Are You Still Angry About.” This poem discusses the idea that women are seen as inferior in China, and while Ms. Ping is in America and able to speak her mind and is free to live her life as she pleases she is still angry about her life and ancestry in China in regards to being a female. Some examples of life in China compared to America are in these lines: “I no longer need to break my toes to make lotus feet/or squish my liver and kidneys to slim my waist…Yes, I must feel lucky/that I have vocations other than love or maternity:/I’m a poet, a teach, and working toward a Ph.D.” She goes on to say “How can I explain the anger that prevents me from breathing?/I want to scream/every time I bow to my family tree which hangs in the clan hall.” In this poem, after these lines, there are paragraphs of prose in which she describes the lineage of females since there is no such record kept because of Chinese culture. I could not even begin to take samples of lines from these paragraphs because there is so much said in such little space. From how women are named, how men are preferred, how females are drowned for being female born, there is too much. She finally returns to the typical-looking poem towards the end and her lines are powerful conclusions to the history she has related to her readers. “I must scream, even though I have no voice./Since my birth, silence has been my single weapon./Now it no longer suffices.” This poem ends with resolve and fury, I cannot possibly do it justice.
If you stumble upon this volume of poetry I insist that you pick it up and read it. It will inspire you, anger you, and will keep you locked within its pages. Until you are able to read it for yourself, please click the link to the YouTube video I was able to find, it is well worth watching.
A brief bio of the poet
Wang Ping reads her work on YouTube—definitely watch her read her poems!
Thanks for reading, please stop by tomorrow for more Poems Found by Poet Hound…