China Cupboard and the Coal Furnace
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These are personal, post-confessional poems that explore childhood, career changes, love and family life. The work’s themes are drawn from urban and rural working class life, the world of science, notions about the reparative function of art, object relations psychology, and, at times, Chinese-American experience.
"Perhaps it is only a question of which wholeness the poets we love bring to us, or dare us to hope for. David Chin’s poetry in The China Cupboard and the Coal Furnace illustrates E.M. Forster’s famous dictum Only connect with a compassionate fearlessness that is deeply satisfying. Have I forgiven my parents their love--/their half-century of two languages,/ two histories, two kinds of blood. I don’t know. Science and poetry, the spirit and the machine shop, city street and farm, the humanity of poverty, the lonely loving of men and women and most poignantly children: everywhere, with the microscopic eye of the lyrical scientist, Chin seeks the healing connection. Where it cannot be found, truth makes do. And he brings back whole the worlds he examines, with an absoluteness of detail that is gemlike, be it the Federal Machine Company, a tissue culture lab, Jersey City, or a dairy farm. Utterly accessible, the poems in this collection are nonetheless richly layered, moving effortlessly from their superb descriptions to symbolic completion. Strange, how a man attempts long-delayed emotional workholding a fossil in the palm/ of his young hand, while the other, older hand / holds an indexed key to petrified genus and phylum. These poems probe our edges; they move ahead of us, and we follow gratefully, gathering and holding on ." Michael Riley
"This collection is a magnificent mirror of our culture. A work of
true genius; brilliant powerful poems; a front runner for Best of
the Century" Ruth Stone.
"David Chin is for me one of the finest, funniest, smartest, most tender and original poets alive today. I love the work in this book, and can hardly wait to see what he writes next. I am sure that some of these poems will be among our great American classics." Liz Rosenberg
"Those who come to this first sizable volume of David Chin’s work will find the balancing act of one life inside another life inside other lives inside our own. The opening poem, Seven Day Diary, is an instant classic in this regard; the astonishing flood of sharp scientific lingo washes into and against an interior crumbling away from science toward less measurable datums of memory, dreams, broken flower pots in the rain. Thoreau’s Most men lead lives of quiet desperation, which always sounds so smooth, is made real, attached to vulnerable flesh and blood and earth and sky, and hence transcends mere epigrammatic roundness. Having essentially uncreated his world in seven days, Chin bravely reassembles a new one through meditation, expiation, even liberation when he least expects it, riding on the back of a truck in Upstate New York, eating out of a lunch box, listening to Bob Dylan make fun of Bob Dylan. He never loses his keen scientific eye; he just studies less and less material that can be quantified." Gerry Crinnin
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