REVIEWS AND COMMENTARY ON WILLIAM MARR’S POETRY

 

 

There have been more than three hundred reviews and articles on William Marr’s poetry written by critics and scholars from Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Southeast Asia and North America.  The following is a list of brief quotes from some of these reviews and articles:

 

 

 

“A master of lyrical layers along with the beauty and brevity of his Chinese heritage, he enhances his skill with the spontaneity and flavor of his adopted American homeland.  His humor, insight and tenderness are universal. His control of such rich ingredients is sure-handed. “

             —— Glenna Holloway, founding president of the Illinois State Poetry Society,

                                         author of Never Far from Water and Other Love Stories

 

“Each (poem) is a window opening onto beauty and fluency. There is every shade of happiness and sadness, anger and peace.... Their effortless renderings of a civilized mind in touch with an often mad world are part of their mystery.”

—— Li-Young Lee, author of Rose and The City in Which I Love You

 

“Verse has never been freer, yet strong discipline is at work.... The human spectrum visible in Autumn Window will make readers nod, smile and perhaps wipe an eye.”

       —— Chicago Tribune

 

“The accents and nuances are strange to me -- and refreshing.”

——Gwendolyn Brooks, former Poet Laureate of Illinois

 

“Collectible Chicago poets, one finds, start with Eugene Field, Carl Sandburg, Edgar, Lee Masters, Harriet Monroe, Gwendolyn Brooks, Ana Castillo, David Hernandez, Li-Young Lee, William Wei-Yi Marr, and a raft of more recent poets....”

—— Collecting Chicago Poetry by Kenan Heise, AB BOOKMAN'S WEEKLY

 

“Sometimes what is simple is most profound. That is true of the writings of Downers Grove resident, William Marr, an engineer retired from Argonne National Laboratory and internationally known poet and translator.”

——Susan Dibble, West Suburban Living

 

“He uses the language of the common people fluently and clearly... [and] gives profound meaning to common objects and events.”

--- The Isle Full of Noises
Modern Chinese Poetry from Taiwan
Columbia University
Press

 

“Unquestionably among the best contemporary Chinese poets.... He is unique and without peer in the arena of short poems.”

--- Huaxia Poetry, China

 

“His concise yet highly symbolic poetry, with a deep sense of humanity, adds a new dimension to the rich tradition of Chinese poetry.... He bridges the gap between new and old, and between East and West.”

--- Hong Kong Literature Monthly

 

 

“From so many poems I’ve read, I would pick this one (William Marr’s A Snowy Day) as the most direct, pure, colloquial, clear, simple and witty.  This is poetry, the best and the truest kind of poetry.”

--- Lin Heng-Tai, poet and critic, Taiwan

 

“With fewer than 30 words, William Marr was able to pack so many complex meanings into his poem, Night Flute, giving full play to the density of modern Chinese word usage.  For a linear or sequential essay, it would require at least 100 words.”

--- Chang Han Liang, professor and critic, Taiwan

 

“It has always been a pleasant surprise to see William Marr’s usage of the most ordinary objects to seek the breakthrough of meaning in his poetry.”

 

--- Hsiao Hsiao, professor and critic, Taiwan

 

“You will be absorbed in his poetry from the title to the last line. You will smile unknowingly, or be greatly touched.  The feeling is pure intellectual, or even scientific, without a trace of sentimentalism.  I love his poetry with such admirable characteristics.”

--- Chen Chien Wu, poet and writer, Taiwan

 

“Talking about the conciseness in Chinese modern poetry, very often we have to use William Marr as an example.  His poetry either scratches your itchy spots or touches your sore points.  Powerfully strong, it never misses its target.”

                                                                               --- Hsiang Ming, poet, Taiwan 

 

“Most of William Marr's poems are short, condensed, and precise.  With one glance, the entire poem enters your eyes.  It then spreads like a drop of ink upon a sheet of paper.  You will be amazed at the speed of its propagation, the shocking quality of its language, and the strength of its poetic flavor.” 

--- Chiao Lin, poet, Taiwan

 

“When I first noticed William Marr's poetry, it did not give me too much of a shock.  As I grew older and my perception of poetry evolved, I found that his concise poems amazed me more and more.”

--- Hsiang Yang, poet, Taiwan

 

“In Taiwan's poetry circle, William Marr is a black horse, a master poet who writes short poems.  His sparing usage of words, his fresh images, and concentrated structure, often make us smile unknowingly in approval.”

--- Chao Tien-I, poet and critic, Taiwan

 

“With a natural and unrestrained style, distinctive imageries, and efficient treatment of his materials, William Marr's poetry is unique.  His trick is to stop upon touching.  It leaves us a lasting and pleasant impression.... Similar to what  he demands of himself, his poetry consists of characteristics of social conscience, novelty, symbolism, and precision.  Through his efforts, he has made himself a successful imagist poet.”

--- Lee Kuei-Hsien, poet and engineer, Taiwan

 

“William Marr is a poet with modern technical background.  This is why his poems look like pictorial works to me.  He assembles his words as if they were mechanical parts and turns them into colorful, dimensional pictures.  It is not a building block game.  Rather, it expresses pointedly modern man's feeling and perception.  It gives fresh conceptions to ordinary people and objects.”

---   Tseng Kuei-Hai, physician and poet, Taiwan

 

“William Marr's poetry, like his pen name, Fei Ma (literally, “not a horse”), is very unique and has a strong sense of anti-vulgarity.  He belongs to the minority group of poets whose works can be recognized immediately.  The special short form, the distinctive way of line breaks, and the unmistakably original way of thinking, all give rise to a trademark impression.  Fei Ma is not a white horse, galloping with head raised. He is a real, robust black horse.... William Marr's poetry is the profound product of his reality-penetrating imagination.  Such lively poetic reality often gives the reader a jolt and entices him or her to linger.”

---Yang Chieh-Mei, poet, Taiwan

 

“I have great interest in reading William Marr's poetry.  His poems are short.  Their subjects are from everyday life.  The poetic thoughts are natural; tempos are lucid and lively.  In addition, the images he uses are striking; the expressions are implicit; and the artistic conceptions are profound. “

——Lin  Huan-Chang, poet and editor, Taiwan

 

 

“William Marr's poetry always shows his terse and lively style.  He is one of the few contemporary poets who can master simple yet clear-cut images and can cut right into sharp and intensive subjects.  The structure of his poetry, stable and  

complete, performs serious themes with the simplest form.”

——Li Min-Yung, poet, Taiwan

 

 

“The technique employed by William Marr is very calm and cool.  With a touch of intellect, he produces works that are full of the beauty of motion. Containing profound meanings, his language surprises and shocks many readers.”

——Chuang Jin-Kuo, poet, Taiwan

 

“William Marr is a poet who unifies his theory with his work.  The structure of his poetry is simple, yet perfect. And his usage of words is natural and unadorned.  Imbued with rich social connotations and deep thoughts, his works possess an unusual quality and becomes an oddity in the poetic arena.”

——Kang Yuan, poet and critic, Taiwan

 

“The language in William Marr's poetry is common, yet unvulgar, and is lean, short, and refined.  He never generates waste unnecessarily in his poems.  The angle from which he draws his material is so different from other contemporary poets that it always gives a pleasant surprise to its reader.”

──Hsiao Hsiao, professor and critic, Taiwan

 

“William Marr's poetry is vivid, graceful, beautiful and full of new meanings.  It seeks a noble and poetic sentiment, and expresses keen and lively perceptions.”

──Lin Ming-Li, poet and critic, Taiwan

 

“William Marr, the poet we know, is a magician who is an expert in writing short poems.  A casual waving of his hands and a beautiful short poem appears at his finger tips amid the cheering of the audience.”

——Mo Yu, poet and editor, Taiwan


 

“William Marr's poetry expresses deep concern towards society and life through cool philosophical thoughts.  [Through] the unification of reality and trans-reality, ...he is able to integrate the spirit of provincialism with modern poetic techniques.”

——Li Yuan-Luo, critic, China

 

 

“Among the work of contemporary well-known Taiwanese poets, I feel that William Marr's poetry possesses the strongest internationalism.... His work has unique artistic features -- a good combination of science and literature, powerful explosiveness, deep and profound themes, and forceful satire. The poetry of William Marr is exceptionally rich and grand.”

——Gu Ji-Tang, scholar and critic, China

 

 

“William Marr's poetry possesses many artistic features which are immediately recognizable and become unforgettable upon reading.  Infinite charm is stored in his few simple lines which, after being mulled over, gives out endless aesthetic enjoyment.”

——Zhu Er, critic, China

 

“The distinguishing features of William Marr's poetry are its simplicity and its ambiguity.  He places special emphasis on "the generation of multiplicity from a singularity", seeking lasting values from simple yet transparent images.... He is an explorer in the land of poetry.  He is not used to taking the road flattened by the crowd.  He writes poetry for the sake of creating a new universe. The keen sense of modernity and the various modern techniques found in his works bring new aesthetical elements to Taiwanese and Chinese poetry and creates a new poetic landscape.”

——Jin Qin-Jun, professor and critic, China

 

 

 

“Aiming at the bad customs of society, Mr. Lu Xun of the May-Fourth Era used his knife-sharp essays, while, today, William Marr uses his poems.  Both are successful attempts.  With his sharp pen, William Marr writes poetry which gives readers pleasure as well as sober messages.  This is undoubtedly his unique contribution.... Because of his deep feeling towards his motherland, he tries to bridge the gap between Taiwan and China.  On one hand, he tries to find compatibility between classicalism and modernism. On the other hand, he absorbs the essence of Western poetry with an open mind.  His poetry has successfully suggested a road for the Taiwanese and Chinese poetic circles to go by.”

——Mao XinBei Hong, professor and critic, China

 

 

“William Marr's poetry has the characteristics of “moldability”.  It can give different perceptions to different viewers, thus letting readers with various backgrounds and personalities participate in its recreation.” 

 

——Liu Qiang, writer and critic, China

 

“William Marr's Yellow River is a majestic poem..., a grand piece which can shake heaven and earth and the souls.... Its ingenious symbolic conception make it a lasting poem!” 

——Liu Qiang, writer and critic, China

 

“From subject consciousness to ideological texture to artistic technique, William Marr has been able to surpass two major schools of thought: he is both a modernist and a realist; yet, he is neither a modernist nor a realist.  He is indeed a contemporary idol in poetry with his own unique approach.”

——Yu Da-Xiang, professor and critic, China

“William Marr's poetry is extremely pure, having the spirit and sentiment of Chinese wash painting.... Sensational form and rational content unite perfectly in William Marr's poetic works.”

——Shao De-Huai, professor and critic, China

 

 

“In Taiwan's poetry circle, William Marr is an outstanding poet with a distinctive style.  His poems are concise and focused, full of crystal clear and striking images, and rich in historical significance and critical consciousness.  These factors all combine to make his poetry unique.  Even without a title or the author's name, people can identify his work without any difficulty.   

——Gu Ji-Tang, scholar and critic, China

 

 

“The inclusion of various modern techniques, a broad spirit of humanity, and profound philosophical thoughts all combine to make William Marr's poetry unique and rich.”

——Chen Xian-Mao, professor and editor, China

 

 

“William Marr's creative poetry forms an artistic style that is more realistic than realism, more modernistic than modernism.... He blends together realism and modernism.  His close association with reality and his concerns of the lives of ordinary people, are always closely connected with the self-consciousness and sharp vision of a modern poet.”

——Zhu Li-Li, professor and critic, China

 

 

“Novel imagination is a very distinctive trait of William Marr's poetry.... He has an intellectual perspective which is based on his exquisite feeling, sharp observations, and unique appreciation..., thus producing an amazement, a tremor, a meditation in a reader's mind. This is the artistic charm of William Marr's poetry.”

——Meng Xiang-Sheng, critic, China

 

“William Marr is a poet who began from, left, and returned to the Taiwanese poetry arena.... His poetic thoughts and techniques add healthy elements to the development of Chinese contemporary poetry and Chinese cultural heritage. His work positively impacts our search for a deep yet clear, modern yet traditional, idealized poetic atmosphere.”

——Wu Zhi-Chun, scholar and critic, China

 

“I always get a special feeling whenever I read William Marr's poetry, namely, surprise. This gives me great reading pleasure. The topics of most of the poems in his new book, Selected Poems of William Marr, are all very common -- things or people from everyday life.  Yet, even in these ordinary subjects, our poet is always able to find something new and beautiful, and to give us unexpected, fresh enjoyment and satisfaction.... His language is very skillful, spirited, lively, and expressive.”

——Liu Shi-Jie, critic, China

 

“William Marr is a super-heavyweight, ironic poet in our contemporary poetry arena.  His ironic poetry, with its large quantity, high intensity, and great variety is indeed a poetic spectacular.” 

——Liu Qiang, writer and critic, China

 

 

“William Marr is a poet who not only is faithful to real life but also uses his intelligence and thoughts to interpret life and society.  With steady firm steps, he pursues real poetic art and writes cool and lucid poetry.  He uses his poetic images to evoke surprise and admiration and makes us feel the vast and wonderful domain of poetry.  His poetry expands our inner world, lets us feel many things which we would otherwise ignore or even not dream of.... His poetry belongs not only to himself, but to the world as well.”

——Tang Ling-LingZhou Wei-Min, professors and writers, China

 

 

“William Marr's poetry covers many territories: politics, economics, religion, culture, history, and people.  It also involves many countries: Taiwan, America, Mainland China and other lands.  He presents himself as the origin of his writing, emphasizing the subject consciousness, focusing on the minute details of life, and seeking his emotional trigger point.  His poetry does not have the anti-rationalism of the Western modern world.  He feels that he has a social responsibility.  It is this responsibility that  causes his poetry to possess a sense of reality.”

——Pan Ya-Dun, professor and critic, China