The Melon-Carts Have Overturned

By Linda Zeiser and Trena Machado

Melon-Carts Have Overturned



Woman-Stirred, December 2006
By Mary Meriam

The Melon-Carts Have Overturned: A Collection of Chinese Wu Songs by Linda Zeiser

A second book from RAW ArT PRESS has been sitting on my night stand. The Melon-Carts Have Overturned by Linda Zeiser is a collection of Chinese Wu Songs. Wu Songs are a form of writing from China in four lines. They consist of long songs, work songs, and folk songs. Linda Zeiser has written over 300 of them in total and she has gathered 100 of them in this book, The Melon-Carts Have Overturned.

What is exciting about the book is the way that the Wu Songs work with the ten photographs that unfold in the book. The photographs themselves tell a story of the impact of Chinese food, design, and culture. Reproduced extremely well in black and white, the photographs both illuminate and expand the Wu Songs. In addition to visual images, this book employs a dialogue between Zeiser as the author of the Wu Songs and Trena Machado, another writer and friend, who contributes eighteen commentary pieces to the collection. Each of the commentaries are in response to a particular Wu Song. While they begin with the words and experiences that Zeiser evokes in the Wu Songs, they are in and of themselves prose poems interpreting and expanding the Wu Songs themselves. For instance, Zeiser writes this Wu Song:

Before the dawn, the shadow came
and offered me eternity.
I slipped between the Milky Way
this kiss, my final destiny.

And Machado in part writes of it, “Out of this crystalline amnesia at the base of our souls, we can make a choice to be born, take our steps and create the world. But. . .we have to break free, a thiefly/tricksterly act of spontaneity releasing ourselves from eternity’s sleep to be fully here in the world.” The dialogue between the two writers in the collaboration is intriguing and important. For me, the greatest gift is to have someone reading and responding closely to the work and Machado is doing that with Zeiser’s Wu Songs.

Of the Wu Songs themselves, Zeiser indicates in the introduction that she wrote them at a time when she and a partner were separating “after a long marriage and these songs were my solace.” I was drawn to the Wu Songs that directly addressed this narrative including this one

My sole contentment was in you,
my fire, my rain were in your hands.
Small pewter frame still holds your face,
past life and death and reckless loves.

There are 98 other Wu Songs in The Melon-Carts Have Overturned. Besides the poems themselves working with the form of the Wu Song, the book is lovely interaction between the verbal and the visual and an important dialogue between writers. Spending some time with the book is gratifying and worthwhile.


The Melon-Carts Have Overturned by Linda Zeiser is published by RAW ArT PRESS. To order a copy, e-mail Trena Machado, the owner of RAW ArT PRESS at The book sells for $10.


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