It seems funny to praise the people in a book of poetry, for poetry is supposed to have been cleansed of the human, denatured, forced to wear the mask of the “impersonal,” but in Joël Tan’s work you have an enormous hall of living pictures, vigorous as those in Melvin Tolson’s Harlem Gallery forty years back. Chief among equals is Tan’s portrait of his stepfather, and the fiery, sexual energy the man exudes lights the book on fire, singes your fingers on its lava-rich pages. At turns abrupt and languorous, harsh and seductive, Tan’s verse in Type O Negative flows like no other in contemporary California writing.
The intense drama of our daily lives - from love gone dry to flings and other infidelities to electronically-driven desire to cocktail-spiked illnesses to beauty and its anxieties - is all here in Tan’s superb collection, Type O Negative. Lyrically divided into two sections and split geography, these poems are fierce, urgent, burningly honest, unflinching, headrush to the max, and, above all, magnificently heartbreaking.
R. Zamora Linmark, author of Rolling the R’s
A narrative of pain and loss, a memory piece of such raw emotion and sadness
it will make you weep. Nothing I have read in the past several years comes
close to matching Joel Tan in the nightmarish intensity of his vision."
Marianne Villanueva, author of Mayor of the Roses