Friday, May 29, 2015

South Fukien: Missionary Poems: 1925-1951, William Angus

An interesting note today from the Author of "South Fukien: Missionary Poems: 1925-1951, William Angus".  I read some of the poems and they really brought to life the place and the people of Amoy (now Xiamen), of Fujian Province. I even recognized some of the notorious characters--a bandit chief--in one poem, though the name was changed. Insightful, and fun. Below are the author's note and Press Release.
Click Here for "The Three Trees", William Angus' favorite poem. 
Dr. Bill, Xiamen University MBA Center (since 1988); Author of Discover Xiamen &Fujian Adventure.

Note from David Andrews, May 27, 2015
I have enjoyed reading your site while doing research for my book project, South Fukien:Missionary Poems 1925-1951,  by William Angus.

William R. Angus, Jr. was a Reformed Church missionary in Amoy and on the Fukien mainland in the years named, and after expulsion worked in the Philippines.  He wrote over 600 poems on the Fukienese people of his time, 60 of which are collected in a 2015 edition co-published by MerwinAsia Publishing and University of Hawaii Press.

I edited the collection and provided a historical Introduction and Glossary.  David R. Angus of Lansing, MI, the poet's son, wrote the Preface.

I am enclosing a press release for the collection and two files of excerpts.  I hope you will find them interesting and lend us some aid in raising the book's profile among readers, students, and perhaps missionaries.  Some links to web pages about the book are at the bottom of this message.

Best regards,
David Andrews 

                 PRESS  RELEASE

Edited with an Introduction by David Andrews 
Preface by David Angus
Portland, ME: MerwinAsia Publishers, 2015 
China Missionary Poet Published 64 Years after Expulsion
Lansing, MI, April 1, 2015
Through four decades as a Reformed Church missionary in China’s Fukien (today, Fujian) Province, William Angus produced more than 600 narrative poems.  What emerged is pointedly not A Nice Missionary’s Poetry.

In spring of 2015 MerwinAsia Publishers, in association with the University of Hawaii Press, releases 60 of William Angus’s verses under the title South Fukien: Missionary Poems, 1925-1951

Humane but hard-edged, Angus’s verse depicts the Fukienese through successive eras of trial: in China’s struggle toward modern government; through civil wars between Nationalist and Communist forces; under Japanese occupation in World War II; and during the Communist takeover at the end of the 1940s.

Written from actual incidents, in the voices of the storytellers, the poems are as vital as the Chinese people. Angus’s work combines historical reporting with folktale, and a sharp edge of moral ambiguity.  

David Angus, a retired educator in Lansing, MI, has waited decades to see his father’s poetry in print.

“My father traveled long distances in Fukien’s countryside—on foot, by boat, and by ancient, rickety bus.  He knew peasants and merchants, bandits and soldiers.  He heard their stories and he valued their experiences,” David reflects.  “He knew they were together in some of the world’s most troubled times.”

During World War II, Angus’s wife, Joyce and their three children—David Angus among them—were interned by the Japanese before repatriation to America.  In 1951 William and Joyce were forced, like all missionaries, to leave China by the new Peoples’ Republic.
“When my father died in 1984, he left behind a body of remarkable work which he edited and revised several times,” says David.  “These poems represent his personal response to the Chinese he lived and worked among.  The South Fukiencollection’s subtitle, Missionary Poems, offers a hope that his verse will still bear witness to the effect of Western evangelism on the daily lives and values of the Chinese people.”    

South Fukien is edited by independent scholar David Andrews, who provides a historical Introduction and Glossary.  David Angus supplies a Foreword recalling missionary life in China. 

The collection was assembled and annotated from papers in the collections of the New Brunswick Theological Seminary in New Brunswick, NJ, and the Joint Archives of Hope College and Holland, MI.  “The poems were an exciting and historically important discovery, too compelling to remain unpublished,” says David Andrews. 

William Angus’s poems are dispatches from his time to ours, showing the Chinese as a people much like us—hoping to adjust to a world of rapid change, seeking comfort in a Western religion that offers faith, justice, and love. His accounts of spiritual strength and moral failings present unique perspectives into a people’s behavior and mores under crisis, temptation and change.

“Writing with objectivity, sensitivity, compassion, and uncompromising directness, Angus does not pretend,” notes Dr. Paul Vender Meer, Professor Emeritus at California State University-Fresno.  Dr. Ann Kuzdale, Associate Professor of History at Chicago State University, says, “Angus is a keen witness to events that most readers know superficially.  South Fukien is a valuable addition to world history and religious studies courses, and to transnational and Pacific Rim history.

The Amoy Mission Pages

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