reading at 2014 Chinese New Year Celebration on the Hill (Parliament Hill)

atHill-perform1-202x300It is my honor to be here. But I have a problem. As you see, I have my accent and I am worried. My Canadian friends tell me: “your accent is charming”. My Chinese friends say not really, Canadians are just too polite. For years, I’ve tried to change my accent; well, the result is I wrote this poem:

My Accent

It is charming.
I assure you.
I assure myself,
and choose to believe so.

Languages have colors.
I want to show you my tender blue.
But you cut off with fork and knife,
quicker than my chopstick taps.

My accent grows trees, trails
and winding roads to west coast landscape.
It points to the open sky;
yet clouds are too heavy and form raindrops.

My papers collect them
then dry in silence.
I have hesitated many times
before I speak;
now it develops teeth.
Even with gaps between,
I decide
…this is my voice.

So, how was my accent?  Charming? Yes. Thank you.  You are truly polite.

Last year, I was invited to be a guest speaker for Senator Vivienne Poy’s book launch. I love her book “The Passage to Promise Land” it is a study of history about Chinese women immigrants over four decades. And I wrote a poem. Here I want to share two stanzas:

With great respect, I read each page; each woman’s face mirroring mine; together we went through the hardships in the early years of the immigrant life, together we sowed seeds with robust spirits and diligent labor, together we witnessed our tree flourish in this Promise Land.

As a follower, I want to pay my homage to all these women, Today’s happiness and freedom is never by chance. each step took courage, each choice made a difference, each leaf had a voice, each voice connected to the others… Culture, politics and economics are all woven together in our choices and our lives. The passage to Promise Land was built with tears and laughter, with hard work and tough acceptance. As Dr. Poy hopes, we immigrants will work together to continue to contribute our voices to continue to shape this Promise Land.

I want to end my reading here with my best wishes to all of you. Happy Chinese New Year! Thank you. (film by Julia Chen)