Moon: Letters, Maps, Poems

Jennifer S. Cheng. Tarpaulin Sky, $16 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-1-939460-15-8
In this exhilarating exploration, Cheng (House A) fashions an alt-epic for the 21st century, upending received ideas about poetic form and constructing from the debris a hybrid guide for an age of diaspora and displacement: “Sometimes in order to build something, you must unbuild it first.” The text is sourced in large part from Chinese folk tales and makes women’s experience primary: “I wanted to say: a new aesthetics of domesticity. I wanted to say: she.” Experiences of unmooring and unsettling call for new maps; Cheng’s cartography works by myth and lyric, supposition and premonition, breathtaking abstraction and heartbreaking specificity: “If the purpose of a map is to show us the way home, then what I want is a navigational marker that spreads outward, or deepens in a location I can begin with my own two sticks and a handful of pebbles.” In abundant, associative lists of what has been left behind and what should be brought along, Cheng offers strategies for spanning the distances between places of longing and belonging, such as “a red string tied around my foot, running across the globe, ending/ around your ankle.” As visionary as it is practical, Cheng’s rich and glorious book is a record of this precarious moment, a “brief and eternal standstill of a half-sunk world, half-rebirthed.” (May)
Reviewed on: 04/16/2018
Release date: 02/01/2018
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