In Their Own Words: Ching-In Chen And Olivewood Cemetery

Friday, May 28, 2010

Caugh this article and wanted to post some of it up where Ching-In Chen, the author of The Heart’s Traffic, talks about her poem "Olivewood Cemetery: a haibun of Riverside, California".

This poem began at a Ching Ming (grave-cleaning) ceremony for the Riverside Chinese who hadn’t been sent back to China and didn’t have descendants to take care of them. I felt a chill — of history, ghosts, untold stories, communal energy — as we gathered to read the names of the dead. The list also consisted of death causes, occupations, ages. As the roll call continued on in my head, what became clear was how much I did not know about these people. At the time, I was teaching sections for Creative Writing and we had to read Rick Moody’s “Boys,” in which he repeats the same sentence over and over, adding in different meanings by adding layers over the sentence. This made sense to me for my Chinatown dead.
Read it in full here.