Asian-American Poets: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook

By Guiyou Huang | Go to book overview

CAROLYN LAU
(1946–)

Rowena Tomaneng Matsunari


BIOGRAPHY

Carolyn Lau was born in 1946 in Hawaii. She was educated in California and attended San Francisco State University. She also actively studied Chinese philosophy. She is an educator who teaches poetry and movement to bilingual Chinese and Southeast Asian immigrant children. She has received an American Book Award in 1988 for Wode Shuofa: My Way of Speaking and a California Arts Council Fellowship.


MAJOR WORKS AND THEMES

Although Lau’s poetry has appeared in several anthologies and literary periodicals, Wode Shuofa: My Way of Speaking, published in 1988, is her only collection of poetry. Lau’s writings, foremost, reflect her study of Chinese philosophy—Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. Many of her poems explore the ideas behind these traditions as well as how these principles affect individual behaviors and desires. Other poems present Lau’s attitudes about gender, sexuality, and the craft of writing. Female speakers dominate her poems, and narrative content highlights the experiences of women, especially in relation to societal/cultural expectations of womanhood.

To maintain order and harmony among the hierarchy of state, society, and family, Confucius (551–479 B.C.) advocated restoration of the imperial government, social and family organizations, and the rules of propriety prescribed in the classical literature of the early Zhou dynasty. The most important element

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