Monday 15 September 2008

The Kingsbury Tales by Ouyang Yu

The Kingsbury Tales is a collection of poetry by Ouyang Yu and published by Brandl & Schlesinger. In this book, Kingsbury is where the poet has been based since he came from the People's Republic of China in 1991, the first time he came into extensive contact, and conflict with a very different culture and multi-culture.

Covering a period of about 160 years from the First Opium War (1840) to the beginnings of the 21st century, The Kingsbury Tales serves up a poetic plate of multi-taste choice foods with choice tales, each tale represented by a poem, not longer than one A-4 page, told by people from all walks of life, including wives, concubines, lawyers, diplomats, students, professors, factory workers, mental patients and visitors, from a colonial and postcolonial point of view.

The book explores and depicts poetic characters in a similar way that Geoffrey Chaucer did many hundreds years ago in The Canterbury Tales. The stories in The Kingsbury Tales are also arranged in sections, such as 'Historical Tales', 'Women's Tales', 'Men's Tales', 'Professors' Tales', and 'The Empire Tales'. Some of the poems have already been published in literary journals such as Eureka Street, Griffith Review, Cordite, Westerly, Island and Southerly.

"Ouyang Yu's poetry—acerbic, funny, wickedly political—is unremittingly concerned with the strangeness, multiplicity and horror of the real. The Kingsbury Tales is a major new work that shows Yu’s brilliance and range. The tales make up a rich and sprawling account of the complex interactions between China and Australia , between selves and the world. Filled with stories from history, memory and everyday conversation, The Kingsbury Tales is both a profoundly shocking and deeply entertaining work of poetry." --David McCooey

Ouyang Yu's poem "Bad English" was published in Issue 4 of Cha and discussed in A Cup of Fine Tea.

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