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Reading three poems from The Trees Witness Everything by Victoria Chang



Poetry Lunch S5E2

Reading three poems from The Trees Witness Everything by Victoria Chang, published by Copper Canyon Press.

Well I could have talked a long time about any one of these poems and I could have read you at least a dozen more from this book. Each poem in it almost feels like a stone itself, polished smooth and hard and weighing heavy for its size. There’s a deep paring down I feel in the language and a lot of finality, too. A sense of absoluteness while trying to be present. But also there’s a little green, a little light, a little bird, a slight breath trying to push through — or maybe not trying, just showing itself and then diving back down again out of sight.

“Maybe hope tastes like metal.” Grim not just because of the suggestion of futility, but also because of the “maybe” — the speaker doesn’t know, perhaps, because they feel no hope. It’s hard to not feel and still feel alive, you know? I think these poems are struggling between those two things a lot and maybe each is an expression of that last predicament with the bird and the stone — each poem is a body, holding a bird and a stone, and trying hard to let the bird live.

I’m grateful to the poet and publisher for this book and special thanks to my friend Ryo Yamaguchi for putting an early copy in my hands, knowing how much I’d find in that spoke to me stylistically. It does have a beautiful strong style running through it.


Related print

Links to purchase
Get the book: The Trees Witness Everything and the print: Bird & Stone.