cover of book

Genghis Chan on Drums
by John Yau
Omnidawn, 2021
Paper: 978-1-63243-100-4
Library of Congress Classification PS3575.A9G46 2021
Dewey Decimal Classification 811.54

A diverse and cacophonous poetry collection tackling subjects from identity to current events.
At once comic and cantankerous, tender and discomfiting, piercing and irreverent, Genghis Chan on Drums is a shape-shifting book of percussive poems dealing with aging, identity, PC culture, and stereotypes about being Chinese. Employing various forms, John Yau’s poems traverse a range of subjects, including the 1930s Hollywood actress Carole Lombard, the Latin poet Catullus, the fantastical Renaissance painter Piero di Cosimo’s imaginary sister, and a nameless gumshoe. Yau moves effortlessly from using the rhyme scheme of a sixteenth-century Edmund Spenser sonnet to riffing on a well-known poem-rant by the English poet Sean Bonney, and to immersing himself in the words of condolence sent by a former president to the survivors of a school massacre. Yau’s poems are conduits through which many different, conflicting, and unsavory voices strive to be heard.

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