After her mother died, poet Victoria Chang refused to write elegies. Rather, she distilled her grief during a feverish two weeks by writing scores of poetic obituaries for all she lost in the world. In Obit, Chang writes of “the way memory gets up after someone has died and starts walking.” These poems reinvent the form of newspaper obituary to both name what has died (“civility,” “language,” “the future,” “Mother’s blue dress”) and the cultural impact of death on the living. Whereas elegy attempts to immortalize the dead, an obituary expresses loss, and the love for the dead becomes a conduit for self-expression. In this unflinching and lyrical book, Chang meets her grief and creates a powerful testament for the living.
“”In [Obit], mortality is not a before and after state, but rather a constantly shifting enigma…” —The New York Times Book Review
“Exceptional… Chang’s poems expand and contract to create surprising geometries of language, vividly capturing the grief they explore.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Chang has created a unique poetic construct… The feeling of hope is a theme throughout this solid collection, in variations Chang evokes with grace: ‘Hope / is the wildest bird, the one that flies / so fast it will either disappear or burst / into flames.’ Chang’s poetry fine tunes that conflagration with acuity.” —Booklist
“[Obit] marshals all the resources of poetry against the relentless emotional cascade that’s associated with death—and, very much to its credit, and as a testament to its success, the book has arrived at a kind of momentary stalemate against that cascade.”—Rick Barot
As featured in:
The New York Times Book Review
Buzzfeed, “These Are Our Most Anticipated Books of 2020″