Book Review/Obit: Poems by Victoria Chang

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Obit: Poems by Victoria Chang
Publisher: Copper Canyon Press
Length: 120 pages
Acquired through Scribd
Genre: Poetry
Release Date: April 7, 2020

My Thoughts

Death is a serious topic to discuss. Writing about the death of a parent is equal parts difficult and a testimony of strength.

In ‘Obit’, Victoria Chang’s poetry expressed the loss of her mother in stunning verse and imagery. The poems inside ‘Obit’ not only speak about the loss of Victoria’s Chang’s mother, but also about the loss of life as Chang knew it. Each poem marks a moment in life that gradually departed, marking a personal loss. ‘Ambition’, ‘Memory’, and ‘Friendships’ (among others), each have their own date as to when their presence in life gradually slipped away, leaving fragments of events, of experiences now confined to the past.

By providing a voice to these moments of loss, Victoria Chang imbues life. She describes the last moments with her mother with intensity. The gradual departures of her father’s way of life are equally vocal and heartbreaking. She shares every time her parents’ mental health and her daily way of life took a drastic turn. Instead of casting these events aside, Chang gives each moment the recognition it deserves.

While I enjoyed Victoria Chang’s unflinching honesty about the loss of her mother, I understand that the topic of death is not a comfortable one to discuss. As a collection of poetry, ‘Obit’ is rich in imagery as it paints a personal picture of precious moments in life. Definitely give this book a chance if you enjoy reading pieces about the value of family, and how each aspect of life should be held close.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Synopsis

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.

Have you read ‘Obit’? If so, what did you think? Feel free to comment below!

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