MASS FOR NANKING’S 1937: Synchronizing Musics and Tonal Rhyming onto Poetry

Wing-chi Chan
Scarith, 2016
60 Pages, 5 Photos
ISBN 978-0-9864353-9-3 Paperback

For BULK ORDERS, order directly from New Academia Publishing.

About the Author

Chan Wing-chi 陳詠智, a Washingtonian poet cum musician, is also an arts practitioner for global communities.

During his tenure as Development Director for the Washington, DC Youth Symphony Orchestra, he raised multi–millions to operate the Orchestra’s international tours to Europe and Asia. His artistic/cultural advisory spectrum has been crossing over the ocean, including serving as a consultant for the National Endowment for the Arts, New Jersey and South Carolina Arts Commissions, D.C. Mayor’s Office, Jiangsu Provincial Performing Arts Group and China National Symphony; D.C. Commissioner for National & Communities Services; Project Director for Meet The Composer New Residencies Program; Vice President for Washington Symphony Orchestra’s Board; commentator for Canada’s Fairchild Radio and Voice of America; organizer for Asia Pacific Life Insurance Underwriters Association Conference and Aetna Sales Congress; adjunct professor of music at Green Mountain College in Vermont and Shenyang Conservatory of Music in China, as well as external examiner for Master’s thesis at New York University.

As a professionally qualified interpreter for litigation of civil/criminal/domestic/immigration/ patent/finance/traffic cases for the U.S. Department of Justice and federal/state courts, Chan has been admitted to serve as an expert witness for language and cultural analysis by the D.C. Superior, Michigan and Virginia Circuit Courts.  Chan presented academic papers on music and culture at various higher education institutions: Columbia University, Kingston University in London, Tenri University in Japan, University of Hong Kong, Pennsylvania State University, University of District of Columbia, US Library of Congress, to name a few. Chan’s Chinese poems and articles have been published under the Asian Research Center of the University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Literature, Hong Kong Economic Journal, Mingpao Monthly,, Beijing CCT Press, and various Chinese media.

In 2007, Chan, as choral conductor, took a team of twelve American vocalists to participate in a Memorial Concert for the 70th Anniversary of Nanking Massacre, which included Thomas Young, who has been praised as one of the best three American tenors today.


“Wing-Chi Chan’s poetic eulogy, Mass for Nanking’s 1937, is a courageous attempt to bring our senses to the charnel sensuality of the event. He applies his musician’s ear to the words his eye calls forth. Any such protracted monstrous event could only be imagined with a certain surreal dissonance, and that is what Wing-Chi has drafted for us. The poem moves from a calm and rational conception to an appropriately grotesque wildness. By the end of the first section to the poem’s end, his words join together in a logic only those dark places in our subconscious that we seldom peek into can parse. It asks, how does one face what one cannot bear to see?  But face these things we must if we are to excise them from human behavior. I am grateful to Wing-Chi Chan for the confrontation.

—A. B. Spellman, Poet & Witness to Jazz. Former Deputy Chairman, U.S. National Endowment for the Arts

“I understand Wing-Chi Chan’s poetry as making a statement about “global partnership” as an alternative to any monocultural “globalization,” as he himself suggests in a note to one of these poems. Rather than trying to be typically American poems, these experimental soundscapes investigate what emerges when English words are deployed in complex musical shapes derived from both Western European and Chinese models. The result will astonish even many intrepid readers.”

—David McAleavey, Ph.D., Professor of English, George Washington University

“There could be intellectual arguments about the governability of language and whether or not its only purpose is to articulate a clear message. This is not Wing-chi Chan’s intent.  Chan writes poems worthy of a field of discussion. Sometimes they are drawn biographically; other times they pose interesting historical questions; but, always the writing is bold, varied and heroic in new forms. Chan dares to literalize a contest of forces—not only Eastern and Western thought, but by poetry coupled with music. He liberates language with complex animation creating sonic landscapes. Chan’s art is to disrupt and connect, to disturb and delight. His emotional vocabulary comes from eastern thought flavored with western classical music. This is unique but will find its way to the reader. Ideas that are new will always be outside the norm of what is expected. Chan dramatizes ideas with spontaneous pleasure. His artistic identity is like no other. It’s a sensory world come alive through poetry. His choices are alternative ones. He is liberated.”

—Grace Cavalieri, Producer/Host “The Poet and the Poem from the Library of Congress”

“When the author sent me this brilliant work for review, I emailed him my profound gratitude and told him I might not be up to the job. Although a NetGalley 500 Reviews Badge holder, I had never critiqued a book with quite the intellectual breadth and depth, combining poetry, history and music in such startling new fashion. He was exceedingly kind in accepting my limitations and has continued to be so awaiting my review as life took big chunks from me. Now that life has been gloriously restored, I feel able to offer my feedback but must still express my inadequacy. For Wing-chi’s book, with Li Zi-jian’s heart-seizing The Nanjing Massacre as cover art, forges such new ground that this backwater reviewer from Cincinnati finds herself struggling to fully capture the scope of the accomplishment. Let me say this by illustration. In 1991, Chinese artist Li finished the three-meter-tall oil painting depicting the horrors of one of the darkest periods of China’s modern history, in which more than 300,000 Chinese were tortured and murdered by the Japanese army in 1937. Li’s work is now on permanent display at Nanking’s Memorial Hall and was awarded France’s highest honor in culture last year.

What Li captured in art, Wing-chi has captured in poetry. As A.B. Spellman, Former Deputy Chairman, U.S. National Endowment for the Arts, writes in the book’s foreword: ‘The 1937 rape of Nanking … is one of those historical events which defy linguistic modifiers;’tragedy’ or ‘atrocity’ do not approach the … wanton intensity of the horror. Any such protracted monstrous event could be imagined with a certain surreal dissonance and that is what Wing-chi has drafted for us. It asks, how does one face what one cannot bear to see?’ Grace Cavalieri, Library of Congress Producer/Host, The Poet and the Poem, also notes in the Foreward, ‘Chan’s art … comes from eastern thought flavored with western classical music. His artistic identity is like no other. It’s a sensory world come alive through poetry. His choices are alternative ones. He is liberated.’ ”

—Char Jones, Literary Critic, #2 Reader; #8 Top Reviewer on Goodreads; Achiever of NetGalley’s 500 Reviews’ highest level of distinction.