PositiveThe Los Angeles Review of Books...more focused in its intent: to meditate on what it is to try to exist in a world that tells you time and again you are less than because of your identity — or that your value is only located in your suffering ... While there are plenty of instances of suffering and trauma in these poems, it is largely an exploration of what it is to be born in a world that is hostile, and how to keep moving through it once you realize that is the case ... The confusion sexuality, eroticism, and desire inserts into the already complicated reality of living isn’t lost on Zhang — indeed, it is a consistent concern she approaches time and again ... Zhang is able to consider such complicated topics through both expansiveness and brevity ... For readers who relate directly to Zhang’s life experiences, I can only imagine she gives voice to so many of the feelings that have haunted them their whole lives.
PositiveOn the SeawallHow a person becomes a corpse, emptied of identity and meaning, is what Chang pursues relentlessly in this book—and how the living respond to this transmutation, both within ourselves and through social practice ... Depicting her mother becomes a task to attempt and fail at, again and again, in order to keep the memory of her close ... The simplicity of Chang’s diction and syntax is a careful misdirection. What seems like strict description is filled with meaning ... While the nuance of language and its common assumptions comprise one tether of this book, nature is another — as with the bud’s journey towards flowering, towards death. Rain, fruit, wind, trees, all return as images, again and again, to try to provide insight into what grief means ... There is an intimacy through something you can see, but never touch ... Thus a more complicated intimacy, defined by remote yet fixed positions, takes shape. Love exists, even at a distance, even with its flaws.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewThe 12 sections of A Sand Book are distinct but in conversation, giving the volume a feeling of slow accretion ... Reines moves through a wide variety of topics, themes, forms and tones. The images can be as specific as visiting her homeless mother at Bellevue...or as quotidian as the report of a celebrity breakup. Yet throughout, Reines whips us through emotional states (ecstasy, depression, self-loathing, infatuation), physical locations (Queens, Arizona, Lithuania, Haiti) and forms of communication (diary entries, dreams, couplets, aphorisms)—all to consider what we’re doing to one another ... If this sounds ecstatic and trippy, it’s meant to be, for Reines wants us to understand how she sees divinity and paradise in this single tapestry, and the connectedness of all people ... this is certainly her impulse: to make her way into the chaos, document what she sees and feels, and make the most of things with them.
Robin Coste Lewis
RaveThe Rumpus...while this book compellingly and terrifyingly documents the racist patriarchal systems, particularly intersectionality à la Kimberlé Crenshaw, in our modern society (and how those that go way—way—back), Lewis does so with a remarkable hopefulness, and in the face of what would make most rage and/or collapse ... This book is a clear turning back, a consideration of what Lewis most wants to leave behind and forget—the tragedies and horrors that seem to provide nothing but grief, but require examination to avoid insanity from lack of deep understanding of what has traumatized you.