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The Phoenix Gone, the Terrace Empty Paperback – October 27, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Chin ( Dwarf Bamboo ) writes with a toughened lyricism that persuades us of the poet's firm life knowledge: she never imputes to experience (or poetry) a false or wishful glamour. Yet Chin refuses to sacrifice her sensibility to cynicism, either, though at times she is willing to acknowledge bitterness, contempt or disappointment as her lot. Instead, she seems to strike a balance between ideal and tatty, pure and spoiled, a balance that is literary and also cultural, considering her own position as one whose father, "a petty thug, / who bought a chain of chopsuey joints / in Piss River, Oregon," named his Asian American daughter after Marilyn Monroe: "And there I was, a wayward pink baby, / named after some tragic white woman / swollen with gin and Nembutal." Chin's habit of stalwart declaration gives the poetry a grounded force, line to line; and her imagery, simple and spare, lifts up those same lines. Directness and indirection can be tools of equal use, she shows, and though not all the poetry calls fully on them both, the work that does is unsentimentally courageous. Illustrations not seen by PW .
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The strongest poems in Chin's second collection (after Dwarf Bamboo , Greenfield, 1987) present an immigrant's view, combining old stories and sensibilities with an American idiom. In "How I Got That Name," the author reveals how she received her name from two cultures. In adopting a new land and renouncing the old, she writes, "My loss is your loss, a dialect here, a memory there." Her verse is full of mysterious images, gifts from another culture, details that enlarge our world: "her lotus feet," "almond grassjelly and guava," "my umbilical cord wrapped in rice-paper." As in every collection, there are weaker entries, especially those set at Crestwood Psychiatric Hospital. Of particular interest is the section entitled "Beijing Spring," in which Chin writes about Tiananmen Square and the Chinese Democratic Movement from a Chinese American perspective. We take away from these poems "the song within the song, the weeping within the willow."-- Doris Lynch, Monroe Cty P.L., Bloomington, Ind.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Milkweed Editions; 1 edition (October 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1571314393
  • ISBN-13: 978-1571314390
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #638,077 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
I just taught this book to an undergraduate class of English majors. The students loved the variety, the political conviction and the rich imagery of these poems. "How I Got That Name" is one of Chin's most anthologized pieces: we began with a deep discussion of that piece as autobiographical material. Poem after poem, the students all found beautiful and interesting passages. "A Portrait of the Self As Nation" is a long poem against the gulf war and was written in 1991-- in the reign of the first George Bush. Now, it reads like a great foreboding. The students loved gems such as "Turtle Soup," "The Floral Apron," "The Song of the Sad Guitar." This is a terrific book.
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Format: Paperback
Miss Chin's book of poetry is a work of art in the present day. Crisp images and the rhythms she establishes are a pleasure worth savoring. She manages to place one foot in the modern day American experience while still working and moving in the tradition of Chinese verse. This weaving of cultures is skillfully done. I could almost feel those ancient masters nodding proudly over her accomplishments.
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