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Posted: Tuesday March 23, 2010
Weyman Chan

Weyman Chan was born in Calgary, Alberta, in 1963, to immigrant parents from China. Chan wrote his first poem when he was thirteen years old. He has published poems and short stories in a wide variety of literary journals and anthologies. He won the 2002 National Magazine Awards silver prize for his poem “At work,” and the 2003 Alberta Book Award for his first book of poetry, Before a Blue Sky Moon. His second book, Noise From the Laundry, was a finalist for the 2008 Governor General’s Award for Poetry and the 2009 Acorn-Plantos Award for People’s Poetry.


July 2016 : Tonight in New York City, the Poets House Poetry Publication Showcase opens New York City

May 2016 : Talonbooks will be at Congress 2016 this weekend

May 2016 : Listen: Full audio recording of our recent Vancouver launch

April 2016 : Photos from our big launch last night

April 2016 : Two quadruple book launches this week!

April 2016 : This week! Weyman Chan at the Edmonton Poetry Festival

April 2016 : Our final Spring 2016 poetry title is here – Human Tissue!

March 2016 : Save the date! April 26 – the Talon Spring 2016 Poetry Launch in Vancouver

March 2016 : Save the date! April 28 – the Talon Spring 2016 Poetry Launch in Calgary

January 2016 : A look at what’s coming this spring


Noise from the Laundry

Finalist for the 2009 Acorn Plantos Award for People’s Poetry

Finalist for the 2008 Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry


hypoderm: notes to myself

W.O. Mitchell Literary Prize Finalist, 2010


Human Tissue

“[Chan] explores a vision of humanity in a technologically charged world … Human Tissue exudes a sense of immediacy and simultaneously displays a modernist influence … Technological terms, academic topics, and scientific language blend with an arsenal of colloquial terms … This clash of tradition and the contemporary, of the informal and the technical, contributes to the sense of anxiety in Chan’s poetry … [The combined effect is] a carefully crafted expression of being flesh in a partly robotic world.”
Canadian Literature

“We get only what is absolutely necessary, what adds to the image being presented. The end result is economic, vivid, and clear. … some of the poems within the collection did stand out as being clearly-presented introspections of Chan’s into his own upbringing and the formation of his cultural, sexual, and individual identity. … Chan throws words at each other and they clash, rebounding and freezing in mid-air, so that when read, Human Tissue seemed to be more of a collage, impulsive and immediate, than it is a meditation, precise and economic.”
The Cascade


Chinese Blue

“Chan continues to write some of the edgiest lyrics in Canadian poetry, lyrics filled with science and music.”
—Prairie Fire

“Interwoven like richly suggestive translucent overlays of nerves, muscles, and bones, Chinese Blue illuminates the forces of fathering, masculinity, Chinese heritage, and global commerce scripting a body struggling to resist and redefine its source codes. The text hovers between the seen and the imagined, interrogating both, as it runs a tight line from the jazz of a blue toy piano to the blues of life in oil-greedy Alberta to a Guangdong blue-jeans factory to Dad’s blue cocoon. This poetry vividly sounds the cross-currencies and necessary entanglements of the lyric in times of famine, polar meltdown, carbon credits and the massive production of media trivia.”
—Meredith Quartermain

“There are many things in the world to love. Weyman Chan’s poetry is one. Chinese Blue is a virtuoso performance by a poet who looks deep inside himself, others, and the distant rumblings of the world. He pronounces disquiet over their wordings—Lady Gaga, Arab Spring, G.I. Joe, Kurt Cobain, Two Small Men With Big Hearts and all the other brandings we are forced to carry in our hearts. Chan paints with the eyes of classical Chinese painter, whose brush strokes carry many meanings.”
—George Melnyk

“These poems are marvels of the gone but ever-sighted, every moment in/out simultaneous. Read Chinese Blue in your hover-alls. Peel the world true-gappy.”
—Gerald Hill

“Jackson Pollock, mahjong groceries, Patty Hearst, Joplin and Monk, Wang Wei (albeit as insect), Robert Kroetsch and NHLer Dion Phaneuf (as a Flame)—populate this poet’s wide world that starts from his Calgary home. A kind of collage familiar to my own hyphenated-Canadian’s tale. Decades of cultural markers come in lush poems back-lit with shimmery quiet that can veritably glow in his respect towards Chinese immigrant parents. With textured, varied diction, Chan tracks imagination’s lyrical moments and its vivid disjunctive trajectories. His fluid, orally driven abandon and heartbeat rambling lines form linear narratives that, while reassuring, can abruptly shift gears at unusual challenging perceptions. Equally, Chan’s gentle lyrical pulse propels energetic shifts that capture and confer due attention to the discontinuous story that forms our quotidian. This is art as hopeful act with a big heart—exemplified in poems about the father, free of self-flexing sentimentality.”
—Gerry Shikatani


Noise from the Laundry

“The deepest blues on prairie snow are Weyman Chan’s inks, his pen as precise and as elusive as the silken threads of ’a tiny spider,’ who ’ lifts its abdomen / positions its centre / and sails off into the thin parachute / of the air we call a nation.’”
—Sharron Proulx-Turner

“What’s magnificent here is that Weyman Chan has not shied from his history. This book carries at its heart the China he is a generation removed from. True agents of insurrection, these poems mix their languages, making the ordinary world mysterious: ’Calm,’ he writes, ’is what all desire wants.’ In the end, every insurrection must be for something, too. For me, Weyman offers that point in Uncle Dong Gei, 104 years old ’who just keeps going.’ It’s his face that gives the image not just of this book and its writer, but of the relationship between poetry and its poets.”
—Richard Harrison

“Language here has no home but a traveller’s duffel, shifting to accommodate, offering love where all logic suggests there should be none.”
—Ashok Mathur

”The condition of ’noise’ in these poems can be heard in the fine tuning of deep need. The ’laundry’ is, of course, that image-laden triangle of diasporic memory, history, and desire. Weyman Chan scans the range of frequencies that cling to skin, name, family, and place in a poetry of openness and attention grounded ’always,’ as he says, in the ’inkline / unwinding under hell’ and ’poured like water / on my need to know.’ Turn on the poetry radio in this book and tune into its ’scurfing rumour’!
—Fred Wah

“Chan’s writing is technically superb … His nuances echo Alice Munro: seemingly straight-faced beginnings that subtly change into something entirely (or so it seems) unrelated, endings that sneakily jilt your entire understanding of the piece.” —Alberta ViewsNoise from the Laundry broaches its subject matter in an original and frank manner with a lush, honest, and provocative narrative voice.” —Matrix

“The question of how to act with integrity underlies many of his poems, which are less like linear narratives than intricate reveries richly threaded with reminiscences, dreams, musings on his cultural heritage … Chan’s poems are … as delicate and resonant as [a] paper crane.”

“Chan is as fragile as a dandelion seed ball and as strong as granite. He knows that we possess little besides the air in our lungs and the blood in our veins, and we must take tender care of those around us.”
—Arc Poetry

Copyright Talonbooks 1963-2018



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