Sunday, December 06, 2009
susan settlemyre williams on victoria chang
We know, in general terms, what to expect from a first book of poetry. The poet has been writing it all her life. Second books don’t behave predictably at all. Accessible narrative poets go in for complicated word salads; autobiographical poets turn to someone else’s life. As with adolescents, the voice changes—and sometimes squeaks and breaks on its way to reaching maturity. Even at this stage, however, wise poets don’t jettison everything that worked right in their first collections. Victoria Chang, a wise poet, manages both continuity and innovation in her second book.