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The History of Anonymity: Poems (The VQR Poetry Ser.) Paperback – February 29, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
In the face of helplessness, the speaker of Chang's intense poems seeks to harness the power of nature: the mysterious force of the ocean and its often sinister inhabitants, as well as birds, which perhaps Chang overuses. She is at her best and boldest in raw poems such as Innocence Essay, which revisits the terror and desperation felt by an abused child. It's at the center of the book's haunting second section—following the extended title poem that opens the book—in which, with the nighttime forest as a backdrop, Chang ponders just how alive nature really is: every puddle rivers with desire. If nature is no less complex than humanity, it is perhaps less willful in its brutality, which is a small consolation. The final section continues the narrative of the victimized child, her sister, and her mother, with frankness and a refreshing lack of melodrama. (Apr.)
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In this remarkable first collection, Jennifer Chang writes, 'You don't see the black line of yourself, the vanishing you slowly come to.' Spare yet sinuous; haunted, visionary; these poems continually enact encounters between what vanishes and what burns in the body and mind.(Arthur Sze author of Quipu)
These poems seem to exist inside the natural world, as if sea and tree were garments that the poet wears as a first skin. The open form therefore allows for ample movement and air, while she tries to shuck off primary human relationships in favor of this first one. The poems are open, easy to read and pleasurable to feel as expressions.(Fanny Howe author of Lyrics)
[Chang] is at her best and boldest in raw poems . . . The final section continues the narrative of the victimized child, her sister, and her mother, with frankness and a refreshing lack of melodrama.(Publishers Weekly)
Chang's collection is prone to return to mind. It leaves you with a sense of its polish, the sharp observations ("Be silent as the 'e' in house") hidden in the smooth surface of the words, which seem to sit like the title: burned into a mythic landscape, wide as the sea. Even as you read, it both approaches and recedes.(C-ville Weekly)
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