Obit by Victoria Chang is a collection of poems which try to work through and deconstruct the grief she had felt after the death of her parents. She discusses the deep well of pain and suffering as well as confronts what that mortality means to her. The collection is mainly in the form of prose poetry in paragraphs, which aid in creating a sense of endlessness to the grief and suffering. Additionally, there is a sort of repetition in the poems where each one begins by saying something (an object, a concept, a person) died. I think the poems that use this concept well are ‘Voice Mail’, ‘Civility’, ‘Gait’, ‘Secrets’, ‘The Clock’, and ‘Victoria Chang’.
To me however, while the poems worked to deepen the understanding of the speaker’s grief, they didn’t seem to push past those boundaries. Though, I did appreciate the lines in the poem ‘My Mother’ that said, “The way memory is the ringing after a gunshot. The way we try to remember the gunshot but can’t. The way memory gets up after someone has died and starts walking.” Chang admits in her poems that even after sitting and residing in the hurt that she still isn’t sure that it will go away. And for that reason, after finishing the collection, it feels like a bittersweet moment for Chang as she must continue to live with, understand, and grow from her parent’s death.
Final Rating: 4/5
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Maxwell Suzuki is a writer, poet, and photographer based in Los Angeles.