Marilyn Chin Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Besides writing poetry, Marilyn Chin (chihn) has translated poetry, written short fiction, and published literary interviews. She translated Gozo Yoshimasu’s Devil’s Wind: A Thousand Steps or More (1980) and, with Pen Wenlan and Eugene Eoyang, Selected Poems of Ai Qing (1982). Her short stories “Moon” and “Parable of the Cake” were anthologized in Charlie Chan Is Dead Two: At Home in the World, edited by Jessica Hagedorn (2004), and included in Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen: A Manifesto in Forty-one Tales, her short-story collection published in 2009.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Marilyn Chin, a Chinese American poet, has garnered numerous awards, including a Mary Roberts Rinehart Award (1983), a Virginia Center for the Creative Arts Fellowship (1983), a Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University (1984-1985), two National Endowment for the Arts grants (1985, 1991), a MacDowell Colony Fellowship (1987), a Josephine Miles Award from PEN (1994), three Pushcart Prizes (1994, 1995, 1997), a Senior Fulbright Fellowship to Taiwan (1999-2000), the Paterson Book Prize for Rhapsody in Plain Yellow (2003), a Radcliffe Institute Fellowship from Harvard (2003-2004), and a Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner Award (2008).

Chin is passionately devoted to her craft, keenly aware of her bicultural position as a Chinese American, alert to the sociopolitical events of her times, and always sensitive—even indignant—about the issues of women in their relationships, their families, and their societies. Coming into print in the 1980’s, Chin’s poetic work belongs with the second decade of a contemporary renaissance of Asian American poetry. During the 1970’s, in the wake of the Black Arts movement, poets such as Lawson Fusao Inada, Hagedorn, and Nellie Wong had broken a generation-long silence during which Asian American poetry had waned to a whisper. Like her immediate predecessors, Chin is engaged and caustic about the shortcomings and inequities of American life, society, and policy. However, she possesses a more highly attuned awareness of Asian events, and her study of classic Chinese texts has endowed her with a width of allusiveness and a profundity of feeling for things Chinese that are rarely equaled in her contemporaries.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Chin, Marilyn. “Marilyn Chin.” Interview by Bill Moyers. In The Language of Life: A Festival of Poets, edited by Moyers, Hames Haba, and Dave Grubin. 1995. Reprint. New York: Broadway Books, 2001. Chin discusses her poetry and its personal, social, and political motivations, and provides insight into several poems. She sees herself as a conduit for “historical voices, ancient voices, contemporary feminist voices.”

Cucinella, Catherine. Poetics of the Body: Edna St. Vincent Millay, Elizabeth Bishop, Marilyn Chin, and Marilyn Hacker. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. Examines how these four women poets treat the body in their works.

Gery, John. “’Mocking My Own Ripeness’: Authenticity, Heritage, and Self-Erasure.” LIT 12 (2001): 25-45. Gery considers Chin within a minority discourse framework and compares her to Mitsuye Yamada and Trinh T. Minh-ha; he notes that Chin’s articulation of emptiness is compensated by her reconfiguration of what remains and her reconstruction of race, gender, and tradition, and he provides close readings of several poems from The Phoenix Gone, the Terrace Empty.

McCormick, Adrienne. “’Being Without’: Marilyn Chin’s Poems as Feminist Acts of Theorizing.” Hitting Critical Mass 6, no. 2 (2000): 37-58. McCormick argues that Asian American...

(The entire section is 533 words.)