Jo's Reviews > Peony

Peony by Eileen Chong
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's review
Jan 24, 2015

really liked it
bookshelves: aww-challenge-2015

In Peony, Eileen Chong deals with a range of themes, from the nature of family and ancestral roots and traditions, to death, friendship, travel, fear and, of course, love.

Throughout the book, her voice is a consistent one. The poems often seem very personal. These attributes can be positive, and many of the poems made me think deeply or inspired feelings. However, I admit I am more drawn to the range that seems more common in prose - see, for example, my review of Foreign Soil by Maxine Beneba Clarke. (That might be an unfair comparison, though, as Clarke's range is just so large.)

I loved many of the poems, and thought the first chapter especially strong in this regard. Particular favourites included "Chinese Singing", "Musician", "Tank Man", "Rice-dumplings", "In Paris We Never", "Mid-air Disaster" and "Map-making". However, one note of Chong's style comes across as a bit affected: many sentences cross not only lines, but stanzas. Where this works, it's fine and sometimes great, but in other poems it seems unnecessary and a little as if Chong is saying "hey, look what I can do". Similarly, the long run of poems all for someone in Chapter III seemed a little as if Chong had been given an assignment to write poems for her friends.

Overall, my enjoyment outweighed the criticism expressed above - and that's the nice thing about a book of poems, you don't have to love them all for it to be a good book. This is a book of poetry which is well worth a look.

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Reading Progress

January 24, 2015 – Shelved
January 24, 2015 – Shelved as: aww-challenge-2015
January 25, 2015 – Started Reading
January 28, 2015 – Finished Reading

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