Fire Cider Rain
Poetry that navigates the science of cold waterways to consider the warmth of the poet’s Chinese-Mauritian family ties
Fire Cider Rain is about the limits to which shared cultural and geographic histories can hold a family together. It follows the lives of three Chinese-Mauritian women on the course of dispersing, settling, and rooting over northern landscapes, and the brittle family bonds that tie them to one another and to their home country. Told from the perspective of the youngest of the three women, Fire Cider Rain follows the events leading up to and following the death of her grandmother, an ex-lighthouse keeper and matriarch whose fractured relationship with her own daughter haunts the narrator’s life in soft, painful aftershocks. As she navigates the cold cities and waterways of Southern Ontario, our narrator struggles with conflicting desires to run toward and flee from her island identity, which grows ever distant, ever more difficult to find her way back to.
At its core, FIre Cider Rain is a book about parent-child relationships as vessels for cultural identity, and the ways in which expressions of love and non-love within those relationships can rupture sense of place, self, and at times, a collective diaspora. Throughout the book, Ng Cheng Hin explores the geopolitics of island nations, the dilution of family histories over time, and the experience of water as a medium for the cyclical movement of island bodies, stories, and cultures. The Mauritian landscape and waterways of southern Ontario recur through the book as convergence points for its many themes.
"In this stunning debut, Rhiannon Ng Cheng Hin weaves wondrous verse across geological spaces that extend from Mauritius to Canada. In this poetry, the Indian Ocean converses with northern landscapes to give voice to the (un)settling of diasporic women in search of rootedness. Water becomes a medium, a metaphor, a rhythm, a motif, and a metamorphosing figure through which memory, loss and mourning become bodies. Rhiannon Ng Cheng Hin's sweeping poetry is infused with dexterous and lavish verse that makes the reader want to live within the nuances of each line. Fire Cider Rain is a dazzling debut!" – Kama La Mackarel, author of ZOM-FAM