Wombwell Rainbow Book Reviews: Chicago Poems by Su Zi


Su Zi @xsuzi00
is a poet/writer, artist and editor of Red Mare, a poetry chapbook series; reviews have recently appeared in Handy Uncapped Pen and Rockers For Life. Art offerings are on Etsy (etsy.com/shop/suzi00), which is the only online point of sale for Red Mare, and various other of her work.

The Review

Topped and tailed by epistolic poems this is a fine collection of poems that take unexpected and revelatory detours. The first poem begins “Dear Mom”, the last poem is titled “dear d (August 1983). There is an intense evocation of place and physicality of touch and smell and surreality:

my skin is a desert/complete with a bleached arching bone/ a sticky tongue” (fine point)

Imagism plays a prominent part in her poetry. Personal and urban are intertwined.
How is the city described? Often the colour of the sky occurs:

man, you stand in the street all day and sweat/ and you watch the Pontiac’s go by/and you watch the Chinese mother’s in their pants suits/and you watch the sky get pale and distant/until the night sudzes it over and/darkness pushes you to crumbling cement/corners. (how to)

and then there is the beach of concrete/which is cracked and stony and ends in a great blue lake/or a great steaming parking lot/ (still life)

All the titles are lower case. Narrator recalls her “Gramma”:

Gramma lives in the apartment of beautiful skin/but even so, her second husband is being sucked/out by disease (april eleven)

Her mom and pop:

the smell of Daddy’s shirt collar/and my mother with her black hair slicked back/from her/face, scowling, always ready with her voice/(untitled)

Poem blends into poem. The sense of what the other person is doing:

always there is night/and if I sing hand over your skin/as you watch the shadows of trees like deafness/ from the fields of your breathing/will come iridescence/and the pleasures of hot water…/tumbled not like a shower of rhinestones/but like half remembered vacations/ (magnesium)

there’s the coffee you make/for the feeling of the steam on your face/when the sky is that carnivorous dawn color/and the streetlights are not yet off (choke)

It is a wonderful read, full of magical surprises in language and perspective. Highly recommended.

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