Anna Yin – Give Them Back

Anna Yin LEP&W V3 Dec 2022

Download PDF Here 13th Anniversary
Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Three December 2022.

Give Them Back, poem by Anna Yin.

Give Them Back

A poem to Yan Li

So much has been taken from you
when you were still a boy
who watched your grandpa set fire
to burn his collections of papers, paintings and books…
The fire lasted a whole night with his deadly-pale face.
The dawning sunlight could not save him,
so much was broken, he took himself away soon after.

In another country, four decades later,
I, a later-blooming poet and greenhorn translator,
absorb your poetry and paintings in volumes:
A marble-mature man with a crystal-humble heart,
finger pointing at the sky in the skyscraper city,
asks the universe unbearable questions:
What is wrong with this world?
What happened, happens and will happen?
What else is left?

Give them back, the space and the sky!
Give them back, the people and the spirit!
Give them back, the voices and the stories!
Give them all back…
The boy grew up as a poet and painter —
paints us his canvas of colours and cantos.

© Anna Yin

Anna Yin was Mississauga’s Inaugural Poet Laureate (2015-17) and has authored five poetry collections and one collection of translations:  Mirrors and Windows (Guernica Editions 2021). Anna won the 2005 Ted Plantos Memorial Award, two MARTYs, two scholarships from USA and grants from Ontario Arts Council and Canadian Arts Council. Her poems/translations have appeared at Queen’s Quarterly, ARC Poetry, New York Times, China Daily, CBC Radio, Literary Review of Canada etc. She has designed and instructed Poetry Alive with multimedia since 2011.  She read on Parliament Hill, at Austin International Poetry Festival, Edmonton Poetry Festival and universities in China, Canada and USA etc. More on her website:

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