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Thursday, July 9, 2020

Mother and son bring Taiwan closer to home

By Tanner Thompson


“Xièxiè Taipei” is a poetry book that was 13 years in the making. Poet Susan Chase-Foster and her photographer son, Moshe Foster, had an idea to collaborate on a book describing their experiences as visitors of Taipei, Taiwan.

Chase-Foster is a Bellingham poet whose work has appeared in “Clover, A Literary Rag,” “Cirque, A Literary Journal for the North Pacific Rim,” and “Noisy Water: Poetry from Whatcom County, Washington.”

On July 6, Chase-Foster and Moshe did a book reading and signing at Village Books in Fairhaven. The room was packed with friends and fans of their work. People grinned as they drank complimentary tea and waited for the reading to begin.

The mother and son went back and forth telling the audience their story with laughs and smiles.

After Moshe moved to Taiwan in 2005, Chase-Foster began to visit him almost every year. Her visits only last about two weeks and she often has a hard time leaving. Moshe showed her all the island of Taiwan had to offer. She then wrote poetic observations of what she experienced and called them “poemoirs”.


A signed copy of “Xièxiè Taipei” sits on a shelf at Village Books. // Photo by Kelly Pearce


Chase-Foster and Moshe have a relationship that can last through 6,000 miles of distance. The mother and son bonded over their different creative outlets throughout her visits. Her son took pictures and wrote music while she wrote poetry and did watercolor paintings. Throughout the years they always talked about collaborating. Together they wanted to artistically describe everything that makes up Taipei.

Xièxiè, meaning thank you in Mandarin, is the title of their book and is also what the mother and son would like to say to the capital of Taiwan.

The printer of Chase-Foster’s book, Norman Green, only had good things to say about it.

“[Her poetry] is glorious,” Norman said. “It can get really simple, but inside of that she can say something really large. Its very admirable.”

During the event, Moshe explained his images, poem themes and how they came about during his mother’s visits. Then, Susan followed with a poem.

The themes vary with each piece. One poem is about a communication barrier at a 7/11, while another is about how earning street cred is an important aspect of Taiwanese society.

“Susan really brings the streets of Taipei alive,” said Mary Gillian, designer of “Xièxiè Taipei” and friend of Chase-Foster. “That’s why the photos are such a great combination of what she did with this book. It was a real privilege to be apart of it.”

Although this book took 13 years total to make, Chase-Foster and Moshe only started putting it all together a year ago. They are both very pleased with how the book turned out.

When Moshe returns to Taiwan he will be meeting with publishers to get the book on shelves there, as it is a personal dream of his.


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