“I was on a train in Shanxi and saw some huge construction sites somewhat enclosed by walls of brick.”
Reunions in the Year of the Sheep (Baseline Press, 2017)
Could you tell us a bit about your growing up and your path to becoming a writer?
My parents encouraged me to keep a diary and invent stories growing up. My mother is a writer too and has always been passionate about art and literature. As a result, I’ve grown familiar with expressing through writing poetry and stories.
How did you decide on the title poem?
“Reunions in the Year of the Sheep” was first published in Canthius magazine. Karen Schindler reached out to me about working on a chapbook with her after reading this poem, which I will always feel very lucky about.
I think the poem sums up the overall tone of the chapbook in that it draws on friendship, forgiveness, and self-awareness, which were themes I explored at length.
What are some of your favorite chapbooks?
What’s your chapbook about?
I wrote a speech about my chapbook, posted by Meet the Presses.
What’s the oldest piece in your chapbook? What do you remember about writing it?
The oldest poem in the collection is “Postcard.” I wrote it over a decade ago. I was on a train in Shanxi and saw some huge construction sites somewhat enclosed by walls of brick. As the train reached a higher elevation, I saw beyond the brick walls to the countryside past the construction. There were small tombs, like mounds of clay in the earth, either unmarked or marked by unassuming headstones. It was a bit of a culture shock.
What was the final poem you wrote or significantly revised for the chapbook, and how did that affect your sense that the chapbook was complete?
“Turning the Tide” and “Roads Home” were significantly revised for the chapbook. Everything to an extent was, but those poems took a long time to sort out. I think I have more to do with them still.
What are you working on now?
I am working on my first poetry manuscript and a novel.
How do you contend with saturation? The day’s news, the flagged articles, the flagged books, the poetry tweets, the data the data the data. What’s your strategy to navigate your way home?
I go home and hang out with my cat or go for a long walk or exercise.
What question would you like to ask future writers featured at Speaking of Marvels?
What keeps you humble?
Chuqiao Yang received her Juris Doctor from the University of Windsor. Her writing has appeared in The Unpublished City, 30 under 30, The Puritan, Ricepaper, Arc, Prism, Filling Station, Grain, CV2, Room, and on CBC. In 2011, she was the recipient of two Western Magazine Awards for a non-fiction piece, “Beijing Notes.” In 2015, she was a finalist for the Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers. Her chapbook, Reunions in the Year of the Sheep, published by Baseline Press, won the 2018 bpNichol Chapbook Award. Follow her on Twitter @chuqiaoyang.