Circle (Crab Orchard Series in Poetry) (Paperback)
Southern Illinois University Press, 9780809326181, 80pp.
Publication Date: March 3, 2005
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 T’ang 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.
About the Author
Praise For Circle (Crab Orchard Series in Poetry)…
“Emerson claims in his essay ‘Circles’ that ‘the past is always swallowed and forgotten.’ But Victoria Chang, in her superb first book Circle, interrogates a substantial portion of what Emerson would erase: the tyranny of Maoist China and the Red Brigade, the remote reserve of her Asian American family, her own experience in high finance and the jet-set 90s, and so much more. Nothing’s too large or small for this alchemical poet, from a Kitchenaid mixer to Eva Braun at Berchtesgaden 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 . . . .”
“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 poems, from a poet we are now very privileged to hear from.”—Rick Barot, author of The Darker Fall
“[It’s] a real pleasure to find a first book that thinks big, that harbors the best sort of ambitions, not to be acclaimed, but to stretch itself. [Circle] frequently brings Randall Jarrell to mind, both in its wide range of subjects, including art, film, and history, in its many dramatic monologues, and particularly in its fundamental inquiry into the slippery nature of identity. . . . As Chang continues her explorations, it will be not only comforting but also exhilarating to watch her transformations toward full maturity as a poet. Certainly, her first book promises delights to come.” —Blackbird
— Vince Gotera