Claudia Putnam's Reviews > Hard Love Province: Poems

Hard Love Province by Marilyn Chin
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it was amazing
bookshelves: poetry

It's amazing to me how much Chin grows with each book. I first read some of this collection in American Poetry Review and was so moved I wrote to her about it. I've been looking forward to this collection ever since (am not sure how I missed last summer's pub date).

Needless to say, it doesn't disappoint. The repetition of key images throughout gives the collected work a strange coherence--strange because the design is deliberately fragmented. And yet not. The repetition, because it is so judicious, focusing on especially powerful images or phrases, adds tonality and a hypnotic quality, like a kirtan. It meditates on pain and not just beauty or transcendence, though.

Just a few for-instances:

A mask on horseback is not your friend
A mask on horseback is not your savior


What is democracy but too many things
And too little time to love them

--from "Nocturnes"

White picket fence
A red chicken

Ain't my people's imagism


Jon Yi was born in the caves of Yenan,
Did the Long March on his mother's breast.
He grew up and became a Red Guard,
Placed a dunce cap on the very same mother,
Marched her to Xinjiang to die of hard labor.

Twenty years later in Sonoma California
He confessed to his loving wife--I'm a weakling.
A spineless scoundrel, a turtle's spawn.
A lackey, a whelp-dog. He squealed and squealed,
_History made me do it! History made me do it!_

--from From a Notebook of an Ex-Revolutionary

Black President

If a black man could be president
Could a white man be his slave?
Could a sinner enter heaven
By uttering his name?

If the terminator is my governor
Could a cowboy be my king?
When shall the cavalry enter Deadwood
And save my prince?

An exo-cannibal eats her enemies
An indo-cannibal eats her friends
I’d rather starve myself silly
Than to make amends

Blood on the altar Blood on the lamb
Blood in the chalice
Not symbolic but fresh

My favorite is Beautiful Boyfriend, but I'll let you discover that for yourselves...
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Reading Progress

January 6, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
January 6, 2015 – Shelved
February 16, 2015 – Started Reading
February 21, 2015 – Shelved as: poetry
February 21, 2015 – Finished Reading

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Claudia Putnam Ordered from my local indie bookstore...

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