Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Story, Story, Story

When I read a novel, a memoir, a biography, an autobiography, and watch a play or a movie, I look for a story. Usually a good one. From all that I have read and seen, some stories are good, even great; others are so-so. We all love stories, don't we? And as writers, we want to tell stories. We can tell them not only in the above-mentioned forms, but also in the shortest forms, such as a haiku and a tanka; especially when they are written in a sequence.

Here is one of my tanka sequences, published in Atlas Poetica No. 15, which tells my story. I am going to quote the first poem and the last one. Together they tell a mini story about me,

"My Fist Visit to the Vietnam Wall"

being built
when I was cut off
from the free world -
I pay the soldiers tribute
with my words

time to say goodbye
I tell the soldiers:
I took refuge
in your country,
you suffered . . . I endure

After reading these two tanka, you know that I lived behind the Bamboo Curtain for years. Finally, thank Heaven, I got out. Meanwhile, you get the idea of how I feel about the war that has had a tremendous impact on both Americans and Vietnamese Americans. In my case, Chinese-Vietnamese American.

We certainly can write stories not drawn from our own experiences. Stories are everywhere. The key is that we know where to look for them.

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