Liu Yuci, PhD candidate, Graduate Institute of Taiwan Literature, National Taiwan University
In addition to nativist themes, poet Xiang Yang (Lin Qiyang) has also written works for children, including new versions of myths, translations, and essays, and has even published three volumes of illustrated kids’ poetry: Child in the Mirror (1996), My Dream Dreamed of the Dream within my Dream (1997), and Spring Song (2002). The interplay of poetry and pictures not only piques reader interest, but also provides abundant reading space. Xiang Yang’s recent genre-crossing poetry recitations have displayed the breadth of his creativity, as well as his active participation in literary activities.
Published in 1996, the Taiwanese (Holo) poetry collection Child in the Mirror featured drawings by the well-known Taiwanese illustrator Jimmy (Liao Fubin). In 2010 the book was republished in two volumes; the first volume included the original Taiwanese (Holo) poems, and the second Mandarin translations of the poems. The second edition featured new illustrations, with a silver circle in the middle of the front cover simulating a mirror, inviting the reader to imagine herself as the child in the mirror, echoing Xiang Yang’s use of “mirror” as the poem’s thematic axis.
The work comprises ten children’s poems: “Child in the Mirror,” “Left and Right,” “Same and Different,” “Morning to Evening,” “True and False,” “Big or Small,” “The Mirror That Dreamed of Me,” “A Mirror Is a Door,” “The Mirror’s Mom and Dad,” and “Telling the Mirror What’s on My Mind.” Each poem centers on a particular aspect of the mirror, the titles paired opposites: left/right, same/different, early/late, something/nothing. The poems are composed of two contrasting verses with similar opening lines but opposite semantic meanings, echoing the reflective property of mirrors. The content sets out from children’s recognition of personal identity, focusing on themes of “growth” and “awakening,” sketching out the relationship between real and unreal both inside and outside the mirror image. Locating individual position within the contrast of sameness and difference, and exploring the recognition of self and other, the poems integrate philosophical thought and investigation.
Thus, “Child in the Mirror” not only focuses on children’s growth, but also displays the author’s genre-crossing, bilingual strategies, providing readers with a rich poetic experience.