☆ The Oregon Book Award Finalist
How do we forgive? How do we evolve? What makes us human? Turn wrestles with our ideas of race, gender, abuse, love, sex, motherhood, and death. Sensual and philosophical, personal and universal, these poems rejoice in the contradictions of living.
Published by Sibling Rivalry Press.
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"The title of this book, Turn, is a sturdy branch with multiple blossoms held in the poet’s hand. Chin-Tanner shows how the world revolves and changes, how we find ourselves both returning and never able to, and she takes her own turn in finding her own light and life, her own transformative choices. Poems of family and identity explore three generations and discover not only history but the utter newness of speaking that history as a daughter, a granddaughter, a poet, for the first time. Turn is filled with scenes come to life with particular flavors or smoke or myth or states or food—persimmons, Persephone and pregnancy. Brooklyn and firefly and liver spots. The book is such a sensory joy and revelation. The subject matter is often tragic, and just as often that tragedy is softened by a great love. The language of this poet is taut and strong, revealing a heart full of singing and sorrow. Chin-Tanner is an exquisite new voice."
—Brenda Shaughnessy, Oregon Book Awards Poetry Judge
"In her debut Wendy Chin-Tanner maps a 'majestic space' where familial and erotic bonds are eternal, tender, and bewildering. These deeply moving poems locate the mythic in the personal and the personal in the mythic. Persephone's hurt haunts the Dutch House. Hua Mulan yearns for a mother's touch. An exact and gorgeous music brightens Chin-Tanner's interrogations and unravelings. Underneath, though, these poems are driven by 'a curious astonishment/before the sting,' a taut voice that braids and blurs joy and sorrow. Turn is an excellent first book."
—Eduardo C. Corral, author of Slow Lightning, winner of the Yale Younger Poets Prize
"The poet in this debut collection can be likened to Yeats’ formidable and alluring dancer held dervishing between the alternate gravities of two different domestic worlds—one of her upbringing a generation ago in a Chinese immigrant family of Brooklyn and the other a decidedly post-immigrant and cosmopolitan family of her own in Portland, Oregon. Yet, once within the universe of these splendidly phrased and crafted poems, one recognizes that the force that gives a driving momentum to this collection is of one a unified and earthly eros. For love, physical and emotional, is the deep groundnote of Wendy Chin-Tanner’s Turn. It swells and spumes in every line, crying out for peace and requital, seeking its home in the husbandly body of the singular world within which it is compelled to spin and sing."
—Garrett Hongo, Pulitzer Prize-nominated author of Coral Road
"Turn draws the reader in with deceptively simple narratives that open the gates to the pain of becoming. Even confusion (dissected so honestly) becomes musical in Chin-Tanner’s deft hands, but her courage is never brutal; mercy prevails in the cruelest of our human tales. Through her stories of daughterhood and motherhood, connection and isolation, escape and endurance, she insists that we question what it means to become fully adult. If truth is beauty, this book shows the glory of the human landscape at its most frightening and radiant. Travel these pages and, like the unconsciously heroic narrator, you will return both calmer and wilder, filled with the beauty of the questions we ask."
—Nancy White, author of Detour, President of the Word Works
Interview with Matthew Hittinger
Reading: Poems from Turn
Review by Kendra DeColo
Review by Patricia Caspers