cover image My Baby First Birthday

My Baby First Birthday

Jenny Zhang. Tin House, $15.95 trade paper (200p) ISBN 978-1-947793-81-1

The daring second collection from Zhang (Dear Jenny, We Are All Find) brings together more than 90 poems that, using rage and humor, both critically and flippantly address American and global culture. Zhang takes on racism and Asian stereotypes, sexism and gendered violence, class terror, and what it means to be born into—and defined by—oppression from the start. The poems frequently articulate their anger at the wealthy, and a culture that valorizes them. In “ted talk,” the speaker remarks: “it became stylish to be poetic/ for the end of the world... would it be so wrong to wish/ everyone with global entry be grounded/ until extinction is off the table.” Similarly, in “needs revision!” she says: “no to thinking everything can be/ outsourced/ someone has to feel it/ it might as well be me...everyone with secret wealth/ publicly fetishizes rich people’s ideas of thrift.” The more personal and familial poems in this collection, however, move toward a kind of young adult writing, and rely on provocation and sexual imagery. In this stirring book, Zhang offers a bounty of memorable lines that celebrate and question the difficulties of womanhood and survival. (May)