Friday, September 25, 2015

Cool Announcement: Homecoming Trip and Poems to Eat

My Dear Friends:

In a few hours, I'll embark on a journey to my home country, Taiwan; this will be my second visit since my first trip in October 2010. Hopefully, I'll be back in shape on October 18th.

The following is the 22-day poetic food supply:

by Chen-ou Liu

Honorable Mention, Fourth Turtle Light Press Biennial Haiku Chapbook Competition, 2014.

Selected Haiku

im-mi-grant . . .
the way English tastes
on my tongue

2nd Prize, 7th Kokako Haiku Competition

job hunting...
a yellow leaf drifts
from branch to branch

Editor's First Choice, "Fall Trees Thread," Sketchbook 5:5, September/October 2010

winter rain
I fall asleep
holding myself

A Hundred Gourds, 2:3, June 2013

to leave or to stay...
the light and dark
of a spring wind

Lynx, 28:3, October 2013

midsummer night
I photoshop
my immigrant dream

Under the Basho, September 2013

Pacific shore . . .
I speak to the chestnut moon
in my mother tongue

Honorable Mention, Kitakyushu International Moon Haiku Contest


Modern Haiku, 45:1, Winter/Spring 2014

my dog and I
in a patch of sunlight
New Year's morning

Frogpond, 36:2, Summer 2013

first homecoming...
the silence lengthened
tree by tree

A Hundred Gourds, 2:3, June 2013

budding cherry petals ...
three blue-eyed teens greet me
with middle fingers

Wah, 2014

from Lake Ontario
I scoop the Taiwan moon
distant sirens

Contemporary Haibun Online, 10:2, July 2014

harvest moon rising ....
a tremble
in the migrant's voice

Second Place, 10th Kloštar Ivanić Haiku Contest, 2013

lunar eclipse
can my words map the contour
of a void?

Whispers, Feb. 26, 2014

Silent Night
drifting in from the neighbors --
I relearn Chinese

Second Place, North Carolina Poetry Society Lyman Haiku Award 2011

In this collection we enter the life of being an immigrant, feel the loneliness of being between worlds, and the questions and challenges that arise from that experience. One must learn a new language, a new landscape, and a new culture. The immigrant is at first cast adrift, never really at home, but never really in exile, either.

winter rain
I fall asleep
holding myself

We don’t have to be a stranger in a strange land to feel this degree of loneliness, but being one makes it all the more poignant.

budding lotus
when did I become
who I am

When any of us have experienced a shift from one land to another, whether chosen or forced upon us, this is a question we find ourselves asking more than once. I know I have been asking it often since my husband died and I only moved from north to south Jersey.

first homecoming . . .
the silence lengthened
tree by tree

And when we try to go home, we are changed, so home is changed. The silence, the trees . . . how do we bridge the gap? And what self are we bringing home again?

last cherry petals
drift to the ground
I miss myself

As we are becoming, day by day, our “new” selves, we miss the old, but can’t go back. And that’s the way it is. But we go on! This is a collection that makes us recognize the changes we must make—and, if we are immigrants, the changes are even more profound.


Note: A Life in Transition and Translation is prefaced and postfaced by the following haibun respectively:

Following the Moon to the Maple Land
for my first Canada Day, July 1, 2003

Name: Chen-ou Liu (phonic);
Country of Birth: R.O.C.;
(Cross out R.O.C. and fill in Taiwan) 1
Place of Birth; Date of Birth; Sex;
simply more technocratic questions
the Immigration Officer needs to pin down my borders.
He is always looking for shortcuts,
more interested in the roadside signposts
than in the landscape that has made me.
The line he wants me confined to
is an analytically recognizable category:
immigrant. My history is meticulously stamped.
Now, you're legally a landed immigrant.
Take a copy of A Newcomer’s Introduction to Canada.

from Lake Ontario
I scoop the Taiwan moon
distant sirens

Contemporary Haibun Online, 10:2, July 2014

Note:  "The Republic of China (ROC)” was established in China in 1912. At the end of World War II in 1945, Japan surrendered Taiwan to ROC military forces on behalf of the Allies. Following the Chinese civil war, the Communist Party of China took full control of mainland China and founded the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1949. The ROC relocated its government to Taiwan, and its jurisdiction became limited to Taiwan and its surrounding islands. In 1971, the PRC assumed China's seat at the United Nations, which the ROC originally occupied. International recognition of the ROC has gradually eroded as most countries switched recognition to the PRC. Only 21 UN member states and the Holy See currently maintain formal diplomatic relations with the ROC, though it has informal ties with most other states via its representative offices." -- excerpted from the Wikipedia entry, “Taiwan”

To Liv(e)

My Dear:

Upon reading your ground-floor comment regarding my decision to emigrate to Canada, “you're a dreamer with your head in the clouds, paying little attention to the reality on the ground,” I laugh… to tears.

It reminds me that Ingmar Bergman once commented on Elliot Gould, “It was the impatience of a soul to find out things about reality and himself, and that is one thing that always makes me touched almost to tears, that impatience of the soul.”

I miss you, miss the conversations we used to have inside and outside the theater, and miss your favorite actress Liv Ullmann and our dream.

autumn twilight
a butterfly darts in and out
of my shadow

It’s true that my immigrant life here is much tougher than I thought. It can easily thrust me into troubling circumstances that threaten to undo my “mastery” over those things that matter most.

Thanks for your advice: “don't let life make your heart hard; sometimes, you need to keep one of your eyes open and the other closed.” You told me that you've long found yourself mesmerized by Pablo Picasso’s painting, “The Head of a Medical Student,” a face in the form of an African mask with one eye open, and the other closed. I can generalize about the provocative poignancy of this painting: most people live their lives with one of their eyes keenly open to the dangers of the world and the uncertainty of the human condition; their other eye is closed so they do not see or feel too many of these things, so they can get on with their lives.

fight after fight
against loneliness --
waning moon

I don’t want to drag you into our decade-old debate again. But, is this the kind of life we’re going to pursue after spending years together reading, seeing, and discussing so many artistic works on life and death? Your Ullmann once quoted Bergman as saying, “Perhaps there’s no reality; reality exists only as a longing.” For me, my longing is reality.

falling off a dream I become a butterfly



Frogpond, 34:3, Fall 2011

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