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Of Gods & Strangers
     

Of Gods & Strangers

by Tina Chang
 

A meditation on history and the imagination that bears witness to acts of genocide and to natural disasters in Ethiopia, Haiti, and Sri Lanka, Of Gods & Strangers interweaves lyrical, arresting accounts of our contemporary world with stories of “Empress Dowager” Tzu Hsi, last empress of China (1861-1908). An urgent reminder that poetry can offer us a

Overview

A meditation on history and the imagination that bears witness to acts of genocide and to natural disasters in Ethiopia, Haiti, and Sri Lanka, Of Gods & Strangers interweaves lyrical, arresting accounts of our contemporary world with stories of “Empress Dowager” Tzu Hsi, last empress of China (1861-1908). An urgent reminder that poetry can offer us a social consciousness—“in my locked mouth an urge”—Of Gods & Strangers deftly traces the human dimensions of the “great modern machine,” looking to recover the present and its people through the past’s “faulty memory.”

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Chang’s high-intensity second collection tracks her needs, desires, and disappointments and her quest to fit them into a trans-Pacific history: one notable series sets her inner life beside that of the Empress Dowager, the last imperial ruler of China, who died in 1908. The dowager poems, scattered throughout the book, sometimes portray the poet as empress, or create a study in contrasts between two household roles, two nations, two intricate webs of needs: “How the past/ holds onto us with its short leash/ and yelping,” Chang writes; “existence is a small/ lit match hurled toward you./ You dodge it and smell smoke.” Chang’s portrayals of modern life tend toward bright colors, strong statements, and can be cartoonish: “An urge for urgency, my soul hangs like a puppet,/ knocks between my lungs, bends to the song of the sister/ peach tree: Love me when all the ripe clusters drop.” Chang sets poems in postearthquake Haiti, in Sri Lanka after civil war. Traveling, reading the news, Chang’s persona also goes out to the clubs. Yet what stands out most are her looks back at history: “The Empress Dowager Contemplates Her Lineage,” “The Empress Dreams After a Poisoned Meal.” (Oct.)
From the Publisher
“Chang's high-intensity second collection tracks her needs, desires, and disappointments and her quest to fit them into a trans-Pacific history...”—Publishers Weekly

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781935536178
Publisher:
Four Way Books
Publication date:
10/11/2011
Pages:
112
Sales rank:
937,707
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.30(d)

What People are Saying About This

Marie Howe
“Open this book and read the first poem ‘Unfinished Book of Mortals’ and see if you can put the book down. Tina Chang is writing to the future, from the past towards the present, and all the way back again. Of God & Strangers is haunted, intoxicating, and revelatory.— the voice, ‘neither evil nor kind’ is ferociously alive.”

Meet the Author

Author of Half-Lit Houses, TINA CHANG teaches at Sarah Lawrence and serves as Brooklyn Poet Laureate.

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