Foreign Skin: A Review

A Review of Kate Rogers’ Foreign Skin

by Anna Yin

Mississauga’s Inaugural Poet Laureate

In early summer, Kate Rogers asked me if I could write something for her new book “Foreign Skin”, the same request I also got from Bunny Iskov for the Ontario Poetry Society Quarterly issue, but my other commitments left me no time. Now winter comes, I retreat to my room to read her book and think of my own foreign skin in Canada. As days become shorter, her poems linger longer. This is particularly the case for her Fox Spirit, White Birds, Becoming a Ghost and Another Spring. Through them, I too “remove my heart/which is too full of water…”

“Foreign Skin” is an interesting poetry collection which reflects a lady from Canada who is a foreigner in Hongkong exploring Chinese culture and seeking literary transformation through many romantic ancient Chinese folktales. Here, some poems bring us back to the courtyard and girlhood in ancient china, as we read “A Concubine’s Diary” in a red lantern lit mood and the Swallow Sisters in “The Fan” or picture “A Flower Girl” waiting in the moon gate.  Others bridge her own nostalgia for her Canadian home to the ancient Chinese female poets’ voices such as Tang Poet, Yu Xuanj:

No birds return to the south
this spring, but willows
cast fresh lines in the river
….
Your answer does not arrive.

White Birds

There are courage, wisdom, compassion and humanity in these themed poems. Natural transformation and intended plots are woven into these narrative poems to bring out each characteristics imitating ancient Chinese females or legendary spirits.  Some parts of ordinary life in current China are also presented in a thoughtful way through her adventure in Sai Yin Pun market, the Feng Shui woods and other locations in Hongkong. Among many diverse subjects such as myths, family, food, birds, love and life, “Foreign Skin” takes us exploring a journey worth taking.

 

Editor’s Note on Anna Yin

Reviewer Anna Yin has had a variety of her own poetry previously published by Eastlit:

 

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