Advance Praise for


Provenance: Poems by Liz Chang


In her new book, What Ordinary Objects, Liz Chang holds several conversations at once. There is the conversation between Chang and the French poet she translates, Claude de Burine, sensitive and elegant translations that echo her own poems, making a reader feel as though she is listening in to something most private. There is the dialogue between ordinary objects and the invented, and between sensuous colors and cautious colors. These are tactile poems. They are bursting with hues and scents, filling a reader’s senses. Chang does not want to miss anything in the world; she wants to discover its secrets. She wants to become and to say aloud everything, the unsaid and the impossible to know. In her translation, Chang tells us, “Language alone is the bronze that lasts.” Chang’s luminous poems last inside the reader’s memory long after reading.

Amy Small-McKinney
2011 Montgomery County Poet Laureate
and author of Clear Moon, Frost and Body of Surrender

Liz Chang’s compelling poems explore themes like the frailty and temporality of the human body, the inevitability of death, and the responsibility of family as witness. They contain surprising metaphorical shifts and lurches as in “Water Main,” where the foreman emerging from the pit becomes the surgeon emerging from the table with the speaker’s “mother’s blood on his septum.” Some of the poems express both the beauty and the entrapment of sexual desire and the need for intimacy. And throughout, Chang gifts us with her imagery —beautiful , fluid images of suspension, floating, water and the sea—the speaker who grows gills and “drowns kissing air,” or contemplates the “lavender wash of the empty fields,” or who takes a photo of you, with “your grown up watch/ resting against the tank of ethereal jellyfish.” Chang’s poetry is riveting and ambitious.

2012 MCPL Celebrity Judge Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno
author of Slamming Open the Door