In 2011 I graduated with my MFA in Creative Writing from Boise State. I wrote a thesis called "Golden Flower of Prosperity" - mostly a collection of poems themed around the Kam Wah Chung and Company General Store in John Day, Oregon, which is now a museum. It is my intention, with NaPoWriMo 2015, to expand on my thesis: write more poems and short prose, do a bit of research into relevant subjects (Chinese folk tales for a start), and hopefully kick-start my sadly absent muse.
It was my original intention, with my thesis, to create a sort of fairy tale mythology around Doc Hay and Lung On, embracing the history and the available facts of their lives while elevating their experiences by creating poems that read almost like legends. I did have some influence from Objectivists like Reznikoff, Zukofsky and Niedecker - formal elements and also writing a poetry of place are two key elements to my work.
I had originally thought to follow the tradition of European folk tales, but it just didn't feel right - the European structure doesn't fit, and runs the risk of invoking racist/colonial themes that I would like to limit except as they become relevant in the context of a Chinese immigrant from the 1870s. Thus the need to become more familiar with Chinese folk tales and mythology, especially lore that Chinese immigrants would have been familiar with at the end of the 19th Century. That might be too narrow a focus, but it's a place to start. I think the only way the European tradition would be appropriate in this context is as it is juxtaposed against the Chinese tradition - commenting on parallels or differences, especially since the setting is an expatriate Chinese community in an American mining town. The history of Ing Hay and Lung On is one of assimilation - taking on aspects of American/European culture and incorporating them into an existing framework of Chinese culture and history. I want to explore ideas of "otherness" from as many perspectives as possible - what makes the "other" and how do we feel about it?
Ideally, writing will continue through the month of April and I will end up with a manuscript that can be submitted to publishers.
Updates will come as I feel they are needed, but mostly this will be a place to post the poems I create. I won't post any of the existing poems in my thesis unless they seem relevant to the new writing or if they have been majorly edited/rewritten. If you're curious to read my thesis, it's available at Scholarworks.