“A Son Writes Back” (Again)
Ever since the original publication of “A Son Writes Back” in my chapbook You Left Without Your Shoes, I’ve been fiddling around with the poem. I was never truly satisfied with the original. After all, how does one write a poem in response to a poem written almost eight centuries ago by an ancestor, who wrote it for my own benefit as a son of the Liu family? After all, it’s not good form to talk back to your elders.
From the beginning I was struck by the fact that Guang Chuon Gong knew that his descendants would cross borders and settle in foreign lands. What I wasn’t so hot on was his exhortation only to the men to prosper together. It was a completely different time of course – women were married out of the family and only men could carry the family name. Still, I felt a need to respond from my perspective.
The poem has evolved quite a bit, while also keeping some of the original intact. The latest version has just been published in Lantern Review. Please take a look.