Synopses & Reviews
Taking its concept of concentricity from the eponymous Ralph Waldo Emerson essay, Circle, the first collection from Victoria Chang, adopts the shape as a trope for gender, family, and history. These lyrical, narrative, and hybrid poems trace the spiral trajectory of womanhood and growth and plot the progression of self as it ebbs away from and returns to its roots in an Asian American family and context. Locating human desire within the helixes of politics, society, and war, Chang skillfully draws arcs between Tang Dynasty suicides and Alfred Hitchcock leading ladies, between the Hong Kong Flower Lounge and an all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch, the Rape of Nanking and civilian casualties in Iraq.
"Emerson claims in his essay 'Circles' that 'the past is always swallowed and forgotten.' But Victoria Chang, in her superb first book interrogates what Emerson would erase: the tyranny of Maoist China, her Asian American family, her experience in high finance, and so much more. Nothing's too large or small for this alchemical poet, from a Kitchenaid mixer to Eva Braun to the most serene rendering of an oceanside landscape. Her technical skills are flexible and powerful, her voice is fearless yet capable of great lyrical tenderness, and her vision global, principled, sympathetic is a gift to contemporary poetry in America during a needful time." David Baker, author of Changeable Thunder
"A thirst for the self / in everything - even / in the sweet chinks of mandarin...." This does not sound like a first book, does it? With astringent understatement and wry economy, with nuance and intelligence and an enviable command of syntax and poetic line, Victoria Chang dissects the venerable practices of cultural piety and self-regard. She is a master of the thumbnail narrative. She can wield a dark eroticism. She is determined to tackle subject matter that is not readily subdued to the proportions of lyric. Her talent is conspicuous, and this book a most impressive debut." Linda Gregerson, author of Waterborne
"Victoria Chang's Circle denotes a geometry of enclosure that brings into itself all the fractious identities of contemporary American life. The lives of women, immigrants, artful self-making all these are investigated and sung into newness by her canny poems. Time and again the astringency of her lines arrives at a clarifying lyricism, restoring a complex mystery to the everyday. This is a book of powerful, empowered poems, from a poet we are now very privileged to hear from." Rick Barot, author of The Darker Fall
"Few young poets have the ability to both control language and let cartharsis take over the composition of the poem. Victoria Chang is one of those few. She is able to give us a text that evolves from these elements and sets itself before the world with an honesty and a passion that cannot be described. Her poems save what is worth saving and release the shadows of who we were yesterday." Ray Gonzalez, The Bloomsbury Review
Skillfully draws arcs between T'ang Dynasty suicides and Hitchcock leading ladies and between the Rape of Nanking and civilian casualties in Iraq.
About the Author
Victoria Changs poems have appeared in Poetry, The Nation, Virginia Quarterly Review, Kenyon Review, New England Review, Threepenny Review, Best American Poetry 2005, and other publications, and she is the editor of the anthology Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation. She has earned degrees from the University of Michigan, Harvard University, and Stanford University, and is the recipient of a Bread Loaf Scholarship, a Kenyon Writers Workshop Taylor Fellowship, the Hopwood Award, and the Holden Minority Fellowship from the MFA program at Warren Wilson College. She resides in Los Angeles.