Changming Yuan grew up in an isolated village, started to learn the English alphabet in Shanghai at age 19, published monographs on translation, and worked as a college lecturer and administrator before leaving China. An independent tutor, translator and publisher with a Canadian PhD in English, Yuan currently edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan in Vancouver while writing all kinds of poetry, especially sociopolitical, languacultural, nature, love, reflective, dark and experimental. Credits include 16 collections, 12 Pushcart nominations, 9 poetry awards, and publications in Best of the Best Canadian Poetry: Tenth Anniversary Edition,BestNewPoemsOnline and Poetry Daily, among more than 2,000 other journals/anthologies across 49 countries. A poetry judge for Canada's 2021 National Magazine Awards, Yuan began writing and publishing prose work in 2022.
Yes, I did. I loved Guo Xiaochuan’s poetry in particular.
I started to write poetry first in Chinese when I was in high school, but I have never thought of myself as a poet; rather, I always call myself a poetry author. For me, “poet” is a noble title associated with those great poetry composers like Li Bai, Su Dongpo, Shakespeare, Keats, Pushkin, Neruda, and Tagore, whose poetic work has stood the test of history well, received much academic attention, or gained wide popularity among ordinary folks. Although I think I have written (and published) quite a lot of good individual poems, none of them actually belongs to any one of those three cateogories yet. Hence I prefer to use “poet” as an “other referent” rather than a “self-referent,” that is, a term to refer to other poetry authors rather than to myself.
Writing poetry to his/her best abilities.
I got my inspiration [for “Chinese Chimes: Nine Detours of the Yellow River”] from a Chinese translation of the book titled The God of Small Things. If memory serves me right, it is the description of a small riverlet I happened to read about randomly that made me want to emulate it, while I was tutoring a Taiwanese student in Burnaby. No matter what, I have never had access to the book since then, nor have I ever tried to read its original English version.
Probably John Keats’s “When I Have Fears That I May Cease To Be” or Robert Frost's “The Road Not Taken” simply because I like the two the most — they are not only truly lyric and short but also particularly touching and meaninful to me. For instance, I have frequently thought of death since childhood: I fear I “may cease to be” before I can fulfill my life's goal in a minimal way. On the other hand, I often imagine what my life could have been: at each juncture, if i had taken a different road, I would have lived a dramatically different life. Indeed, full of such junctures or choices, including those of friends, schools, the subjects of study, the places to pursue one’s education, the persons to marry and etc., life could always be lived in an entirely different way.