February 27, 2012

Yu Yan Chen was born in a fishing village in China but grew up in New York City.  Enchanted by the traveler’s tales her grandfather told, she set sail to seek her own adventures. She is an interpreter and literary translator. Her debut collection Small Hours has recently been published by NYQ Books. She lives in Brooklyn.

The following poem arose out of a period of insomnia. After September 11, I went through a period of disturbed sleep patterns. I would be wide awake in the wee hours of the morning, starting at 3 am, lasting for one to two to three hours, making me a “zombie” the next morning. One day I was simply overcome by lower back pain and couldn’t get out of bed…

When I eventually came out of it and left New York to pursue my MA in creative writing, in the perfect tranquility of Village of Newton St. Loe near Bath, England, I was able to crystalize my thoughts into the following words.

Small Hours

Yu Yan Chen

Perhaps in the end, all living is learning
how to die, gracefully.

Everyone is fighting a battle, so I remind myself

to be gentle.

It is a bruised world, and every word
a potential pistol.

All I have are words. I plow the earth to grow
flowers out of them, little by little.

Yu Yan Chen’s book of poems,  Small Hours , can be found here.