Bowling Pin Fire

Bowling Pin Fire, my 2nd collection of poetry, was published in October 2007 by Signature Editions of Winnipeg.

Bowling Pin Fire
96 pages / Paperback
ISBN 1897109229
Winnipeg: Signature Editions, Oct 2007


In his second book of poems, Andy Quan recounts a series of firsts: first time listening to Joni Mitchell’s Blue, first loss of a friend, first dance with a man. Building on earlier explorations of memory, sexuality, and culture that are the signatures of his best work, Bowling Pin Fire transcribes the arc of one man’s life from growing up Chinese in Vancouver, to seeing the world through the lens of fearless, free-spirited youth, to arriving, as we all must, at the initial cautionary glimmerings of midlife. The rituals and rivalries of grade school, the later experiments with everything new, the close-knit dynamics of family and far-flung friends, the happenstances and fidelities of love, the elation and hangover of travel to unexpected quadrants of the globe all prompt the quality of reflection necessary to the leading of a truly examined, contemporary life. Andy Quan asks of himself and of everyone: how to be fully in and of the moment? Bowling Pin Fire burns not with empty answers but with the good fortune of worldly insight.

Back Cover Blurbs

“Quan writes with an enticing style whose conversational simplicity blossoms smoothly into intricate, evocative imagery; the result is poetry both musical and highly visual.”—Richard Labonté, Lambda Book Report“

“…Careful crafting, empathy and expressive language… because of [his] compassion, craft, and talent that I can recommend the poetry of Andy Quan without hesitation.” — Alex Boyd, The Danforth Review


Australia: The Sydney launch was held at the Asian-Australian Arts Centre on 21 February 2008. About 50 people came and it was a wonderful way to celebrate in a beautiful space.

Canada: My launch in Sechelt, B.C. was on Sunday, May 25  at the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre. My launch in Vancouver was at Little Sister’s Book and Art Emporium on Thursday, May 31st at 1238 Davie Street. I also took part in the Fifth Asian Heritage Night, global poets, on Monday, May 26, 7:30-9:30pm at the Vancouver Public Library.

Launch Photos

Great photos from the launch – most by the amazing Paul McDonald (check out his website) and a few by the esteemed William Yang on this Facebook page (not sure if you’re not a member whether you can see them or not) Here!


I’m honoured by three great profiles on Bowling Pin Fire.

Visit here for Vancouver’s Gay and Lesbian Weekly, Xtra West, and their profile by Mette Bach.

“Bowling Pin Fire is a fine example of how personal family stories and childhood memories become political when they are articulated in such a way that readers can’t help be affected.”

Visit here for Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Weekly, SX, and their profile by Reg Domingo.

“Older and wiser, prolific Author Andy Quan bares his soul in a poignant new poetry collection”

Visit here for Bnews (Melbourne) and their interview by Kaye Sera (and listed under “bcelebrity”. Heh)

“Books written in verse are the best kept secret on the planet, aren’t they?”

I was also happy to have work from Bowling Pin Fire featured on the Velvet Mafia website, the home of Dangerous Queer Fiction (now defunct).

Alan Woo interviewed me in May 08 when I was home in Vancouver. I’m grateful to him for his work, which appeared in print in ricepaper magazine and is also up online (along with a rather nice photo by Fred Kroh), and is also up on


An excerpt from a review by Candice Daquin in the Northern Poetry Review. (Check out the whole review, it’s a good one)

At once able to comprehend that existential nothingness that accompanies the bright-lights of modern living and causes us to look up from our gorging and ask why we need what we need and why we don’t need what we don’t need, his poetry is also a tour of Quan’s life captured in snapshot and observed oddity, always relevant to the over-all picture, that of “small rewards” and the strangeness of life.

A short review from Uptown Mag, a Winnipeg tabloid – the print edition apparently had the BPF cover image

Celebrating firsts in verse

Winnipeg publisher Signature Editions seems to be cornering the market on poetry by West Coast gay men: Michael V. Smith (What You Can’t Have Here), Sean Horlor (Made Beautiful By Use), and now Andy Quan (born in Vancouver, now living in Sydney, Australia). Quan’s book, Bowling Pin Fire, has poems about falling in love with Joni Mitchell and falling in love to Joni Mitchell, as well as poems about experiencing ketamine and ecstasy. As the blurb on the back cover notes, many of the poems have to do with firsts, such as a first dance with another man (to a Joni song no less). The last poem in the collection tells of the joy in a Chinese-Canadian family on the arrival of the first grandson. These poems are personal, autobiographical (the book includes a birth announcement for a Jeremiah Quan, born December 15th, 2002), even confessional. Andy Quan coolly opens up his life for the reader in a book about the necessary pleasures of self-reflection.

A review from the Books column of DNA magazine Issue #99 – April 08 (Australia) by Graeme Aitken

Canadian-Australian writer Andy Quan is perhaps best known for his erotic writing: the collection Six Positions: Sex Writings and his contributions to numerous anthologies such as the Best Gay Erotica series. However, Quan also writes poetry and this is his second collection of verse – his first was titled Slant. This new collection recounts a series of first experiences: the first loss of a friend, the first dance with a man, the first experience on a certain drug. And for thos readers who wouldn’t usually pick up a book of poetry, it’s possible Quan’s subject matter might entice – a number of the poems are about taking drugs and having sex. This is a very accessible collection, not burdened by an overabundance of baffling metaphors. It’s also very affordably priced.

From the Sydney Star Observer, 07 February 2008.

Andy Quan’s second book of poetry recounts a series of firsts including the first time he lost a friend and his first dance with a man. His words are carefully selected, inspired and touching. While not all the work is immediately appealing, you can’t help but marvel at the way he uses words you wouldn’t normally expect to build quality verse that’s charming, innocent and exploratory.

Notices – AXN (February 2008), Australia.

“This collection of poems by acclaimed author Andy Quan is a reflection on his journey: from growing up Chinese in Canada and experiencing his many ‘firsts’ to the rituals of love and travel. A moving and personal work that gives eloquent insight into the life of one of today’s highly acclaimed gay writers.”

How to get it

If you’re in Sydney (or Australia), you could get or order a copy through the Bookshop Darlinghurst, and similarly, I’d think Little Sisters in Vancouver would do the same for Canadians. But it’s also easily found online these days, or you could ask me if I have any spare copies to sell you!

A Poem from the Book

Speaking Your Poetry Aloud

Breathe a mixture of elements, at least some
oxygen added. Forget the unpaid bill,
the text message from Mom. Stare into the
crowd. Know you’ve got something
they want. Then own it, call it home.
Sing out of every complex cell. Music
finds its way, a hermit crab skipping
from an outgrown shell to one that fits.
Advice I got on road-crossing in Hanoi:
find a gap in traffic, slip in, stride at a steady
pace across the road, no sudden movements,
don’t rush or panic, the motorbikes
and cars will find their way around you.
When it’s dusk, cross as if this is the last
step you’ll take, the click of your feet as they hit
the ground, a metronome for your use alone.
Let it all hover in the air like fireflies
released from a jar, your mother’s caught you—
release release their light is no good dead
see them pirouette, rearranging
their constellations, even if you have never
known fireflies and this analogy is misplaced.
Silently watch them a few seconds then bow
your head just so, everything seems better.
That they’re now outside, punctuating
sentences the night is writing freehand.

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