Cathy Song is one of the most popular poets whose works have been highly recognized in academic circles, and many people still enjoy reading her literary works even today. In 1955 she was born at a place called Honolulu in Hawai’i. “She later went for her studies at Wellesley College in America where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1977” (Nina, 1999).
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She also did a Masters degree at Boston University and graduated in 1981. She started developing her skills in poetry while in high school and she continued writing even in college. Her literature works came to the limelight in 1983 when she wrote a poem called “picture Bride” (Nina, 1999). “This poem became the best during that year, and she won the Yale series of Younger Poets competition that was indeed a very prestigious national poetry award” (Song, 1983).
Most of her poems majorly revolve around multicultural and family issues. She used her poetic skills to express her passionate feelings of multiculturalism. For example, she was originally an Asian but she embraced western culture when she went to America.
She was one of the poets who extensively participated in Asian American poetry, which is one of the schools of thought used in writing poems in U.S.A. Most of the poets who subscribe to this school of thought majorly examine the idea of cultural diversity. Another characteristic of this school of thought is that it widely recognizes the importance of involving women in writing poems as can be seen in the case of Cathy Song.
Her works acted as a great source of inspiration to not only American women, but also to other poets who were not Asians. “Asian Americans generally have resisted the common stereotypes as the exotic or good minority, but they have made a comparison between Asian and Western literary traditions” (Song, Cloud moving hands (pitt poetry series), 2007).
One of Cathy’s most striking poems is called “Picture Bride” and it can be analyzed as follows. Picture bride is a free verse poem which has a total of thirty four lines. The title of this poem may signify “the vision of a stereotypically picture-perfect bride decked out with veil, lace, and train” (Song, Cloud moving hands (pitt poetry series), 2007). However, its title is talking about the matching practice which is associated with many Asians.
In this poem, the persona is trying to figure out how her grandmother felt at the age of twenty three years, when she travelled to Hawaii and got married to a laborer who was thirteen years older than her. Most of the lines in this poem contain questions which are meant to create the travelling scene. The poet also used a lot of images to develop the rhythm in her poem hence it can be easily recited. Some styles have also been used in the poem to enhance the theme (Song, 1983).
Even though Cathy Song emerged as a great poet, her works have met some criticism from some scholars who contend that she over emphasized on familial images. For example, “Gayle K. Fujita-Sato has argued that Picture Bride describes both a personal history and a paradigm for analyzing multicultural writing” (Song, Cloud moving hands (pitt poetry series), 2007).
Hence, Picture Bride has been seen to be describing a “third world paradigm” of writing. In addition to this, Richard Hugo also questioned Cathy’s level of restraint in poetry. Nonetheless, Cathy Song made a great contribution to Asian American poetry and she has left a great legacy of poets (Song, 1983).
Nina, B. (1999). Norton anthology of American literature. New York: Norton and Company.
Song, C. (2007). Cloud moving hands (pitt poetry series). Washington. D.C: University of Pittsburgh Press.
Song, C. (1983). Picture bride ( Yale series if young star poets). New York: Yale University Press.