Reviews for Phoenix Gone, the Terrace Empty


Library Journal Reviews 1994 February #2
The strongest poems in Chin's second collection (after Dwarf Bamboo , Greenfield, 1987) present an immigrant's view, combining old stories and sensibilities with an American idiom. In ``How I Got That Name,'' the author reveals how she received her name from two cultures. In adopting a new land and renouncing the old, she writes, ``My loss is your loss, a dialect here, a memory there.'' Her verse is full of mysterious images, gifts from another culture, details that enlarge our world: ``her lotus feet,'' ``almond grassjelly and guava,'' ``my umbilical cord wrapped in rice-paper.'' As in every collection, there are weaker entries, especially those set at Crestwood Psychiatric Hospital. Of particular interest is the section entitled ``Beijing Spring,'' in which Chin writes about Tiananmen Square and the Chinese Democratic Movement from a Chinese American perspective. We take away from these poems ``the song within the song, the weeping within the willow.''-- Doris Lynch, Monroe Cty P.L., Bloomington, Ind. Copyright 1994 Cahners Business Information.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 1994 February #4
Chin ( Dwarf Bamboo ) writes with a toughened lyricism that persuades us of the poet's firm life knowledge: she never imputes to experience (or poetry) a false or wishful glamour. Yet Chin refuses to sacrifice her sensibility to cynicism, either, though at times she is willing to acknowledge bitterness, contempt or disappointment as her lot. Instead, she seems to strike a balance between ideal and tatty, pure and spoiled, a balance that is literary and also cultural, considering her own position as one whose father, ``a petty thug, / who bought a chain of chopsuey joints / in Piss River, Oregon,'' named his Asian American daughter after Marilyn Monroe: ``And there I was, a wayward pink baby, / named after some tragic white woman / swollen with gin and Nembutal.'' Chin's habit of stalwart declaration gives the poetry a grounded force, line to line; and her imagery, simple and spare, lifts up those same lines. Directness and indirection can be tools of equal use, she shows, and though not all the poetry calls fully on them both, the work that does is unsentimentally courageous. Illustrations not seen by PW . (Mar.) Copyright 1994 Cahners Business Information.

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