Wed, Jul 04, 2018 - Page 13 News List

Constructing a Taiwanese mythology from a family’s past

By Shereen Lee  /  Contributing Reporter

Chang’s persona seems intimately comfortable with Taiwan, despite her alienation from it.

As with any myth, though, her construction of Taiwan is off-color, not quite reaching the truth. In Yilan, Chang describes herself as watching a typhoon from the 65th floor of a Marriott; “smaller buildings lean / like thirst to water” in her invented narrative. But in the real Taipei, there are no 60-floor hotels.

Chang knows that her experience of Taiwan is distanced through a filter of Asian-American identity and diaspora.

“I try not to write from a purely autobiographical place,” she says, pointing to her descriptions of her parents and grandparents peppered throughout her narrative.

As Chang embraced her mother’s reincarnation myths, her poetry similarly serves as a reclamation of identity. Using secondhand stories of a country she has never known herself, she carves out a new Asian-American mythology of her past lives and future bodies.

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