Dancing brilliantly between Eastern and Western forms, fusing ancient Chinese history and contemporary American popular culture, she is one of the most celebrated Asian-American poets writing today. Chin's fourth volume of poems, Hard Love Province, is composed of erotic elegies in which the speaker grieves for the loss of her beloved. Here, too, are poems inspired by Chin’s poetic forbearers and mentors―Dickinson, Plath, Ai, Gwendolyn Brooks, Tu Fu, Adrienne Rich, and others―honoring their work and descrying the global injustice they addressed...
~from inside front dustjacket cover
In this, her fourth volume of poetry (pub. 2014), Marilyn Chin ponders the theme of deep grief and mourning after the loss of one's beloved. She plays with the imagery of quiet moments, typically occurring during late night, moonlit hours while also exploring the sensation of simmering anger that is sometimes intertwined with grief. While in this mode, Chin also doesn't shy away from tougher material, such as the dark and morbid imagery that can play across the mind in moments of emotional fatigue. Here, almost inevitably, also comes the moments of fury & pessimism at one's chosen god.
Chin gets creative with her format, putting together a mix of haikus, standard poem form, and flash fiction. In all honesty, I didn't love her haikus and I found the bits of flash fiction odd. Strong focus on passing wind and human excrement..why?! I fared a bit better with her more standard forms of poetry, though as a whole I wasn't in love with this collection.
There were some choice lines that stood out to me as impressive, such as:
* "Something's lost, something's made strong.." from "Formosan Elegy"
* "What is democracy but too many things And too little time to love them..."
* "A death blow is life blow to some" ~ also from "Nocturnes"
Beyond that, there's an eroticism to the writing that I personally didn't find all that well executed. Pushed past moving & powerful imagery into just unnecessarily crude IMO. But I will give Chin a nod for her impressive collection of euphemisms for men's (and women's!) down south regions! Also, a note on the poem "Kalifornia"...umm, just read the lyrics to Red Hot Chili Peppers "Californication" -- pretty much the same idea between them only more impressive if you go the RHCP route.
Rating: 4.5* of five
Don't kid yourselves, it's a big fat honkin' deal when I review a collection of poetry with almost five stars. I'm not a poetry-first kind of an old queen. It's really important to remember that when I say I would sit and listen to this poem cycle being read or (preferably) sung Lied-style to me.
I will seek this young woman's poetry out in future. Yes, you read that right: I'll go buy other books she writes with my very few United States dollars. Read my review, then go buy this collection, to see why you should too.
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I just had to get my hands on this novel. “Love poems to rip your heart out, “now there’s a caption that makes you stop in your tracks. The black-and-white photos that adorned the cover sets the tone for what awaits for you inside. The human heart that sits pooling in its own blood, speared by the feathered arrow, Romantically Disturbed’s cover was beautifully done. This being a YA nonfiction novel, I thought I could entice some of my fellow students to perhaps fall for some poetic views this Valentine’s Day but I, myself was having a hard time finding something inside these pages to read to them. There is quite a variety inside but perhaps it was my own maturity level that was having a hard time justifying the poems that were written on the pages. I found some of the poems fantastic but then some of them lacked substance. The age of the person reading this book could be anywhere from second grade to middle school based on this information. I found the book confusing as some of the poems were simple and without substance and others had a fantastic story and were intense. As I read some of the poems to a group of sixth graders, some of them were disgusted with it (what I wanted to occur), some saw the poem unfolding and others where lost and I had to try to explain where the author was going with it.
I liked the poem titled The Ring and its illustration. The illustrations grossed me out a bit but it perfectly matches the poem describing a woman whose eyes are set on the ring that her fiancé is giving her. She is deaf to everything he says as her eyes are glued on the beautiful ring. “This ring, it means forever, so-“and later unfortunately her husband dies and now she comments, “Forever,” she said. “Forever, I know-“and the ring, well she wanted to ring and now, she has it forever! I also liked the poem One Wish. In this poem the genie grants a boy one wish but the boy wasn’t too specific when he made his wish and someone is paying the price for his mistake. The boy… he wants another wish.
I was disappointed in the book as I was hoping to find the poems creepy and eerie and there were only a few that fit into this style for me. The illustrations, the majority of them were fantastic! The illustrations saved the book for me, the black-and-white sketches by Adam Watkins were creepy and detailed and I loved looking at them. I ended up sharing the illustrations with the sixth graders and they really enjoyed them. Their imaginations were going as I asked them what they saw in them and it would have been a perfect opportunity for them to write their own poems, had we had time. The illustrator using only black, white and grays as he created, casting an terrifying element on the page with fortune-tellers, hearts, humans and zombies, just to mention a few. It’s a book that is definitely worth checking out.