Victoria Chang's collection of poems is an intimate, original elegy from a daughter to her mother. In mourning, she lays to rest the many other things that died alongside her mother: a sense of home, the dress her mother wore, the blame she has carried as a daughter. Even the poet, a mother herself, watches her own selfhood die. I read Obit during a marathon of reading poetry books, and this one is a stand-out. I was particularly struck by Chang's emotional integrity, the cohesiveness of this collection, and how her precision of language and form cuts to the heart. ~ Carrie— From Carrie
The New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2020 Time Magazine's 100 Must-Read Books of 2020 NPR's Best Books of 2020 National Book Award in Poetry, Longlist Frank Sanchez Book Award 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. When you lose someone you love, the world doesn't stop to let you mourn. Nor does it allow you to linger as you learn to live with a gaping hole in your heart. Indeed, this daily indifference to being left behind epitomizes the unique pain of grieving. Victoria Chang captures this visceral, heart-stopping ache in Obit, the book of poetry she wrote after the death of her mother. Although Chang initially balked at writing an obituary, she soon found herself writing eulogies for the small losses that preceded and followed her mother's death, each one an ode to her mother's life and influence. Chang also thoughtfully examines how she will be remembered by her own children in time.--Time Magazine
About the Author
Born in Detroit, Michigan to Taiwanese immigrants, Victoria Chang was educated at the University of Michigan, Harvard University, and Stanford Business School and holds an MFA in poetry from the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers. She is the author of five books of poetry, including Circle; Salvinia Molesta; and The Boss, which received a PEN Center USA Literary Award as well as a California Book Award. Her children's picture book, Is Mommy? was named a New York Times Notable Book. She lives in Southern California with her family and serves as the Program Chair of Antioch's Low-Residency MFA Program.