cover image How to Not Be Afraid of Everything

How to Not Be Afraid of Everything

Jane Wong. Alice James, $17.95 trade paper (100p) ISBN 978-1-948579-21-6

Wong (Overpour) explores loss, grief, migration, colonization, and alienation in her searching and resilient second collection. "To be a good daughter means to carry everything with you at all times," she writes, enacting the heavy burden of carrying, where "Sometimes there is nothing to say or/ give at all." The works interrogate the Maoist Great Leap Forward, which resulted in 36 million deaths due to starvation, as well as question America, where the speaker wonders: "can't I have what I've been/ promised? This shore and this sea,/ shining always, thereafter?" Wong's poems subvert conventional ideas about America: "And what is there/ to see," Wong asks before answering, "rusty shipping containers." There's also a pointed critique of excesses of wealth set in a world where "we watch banks being built on ancient/ ground," and "hurricanes have/ the name of any decent receptionist." Wong's powerful poems draw the reader's attention and insist the audience not look away. (Oct.)