Advance Praise for


Provenance: Poems by Liz Chang


“We do not remember days, we remember moments,” the great Italian poet, Cesare Pavese once wrote in his diary. And this is precisely Liz Chang’s sophisticated and heart rending performance here. In one poem she writes, “I tear out the delicate core at the belly / of the orange, and think of the moment / I exposed myself to you.” The lines not only give us a complex psychological scene but resonate with other moments in this extraordinary book where a “train flashes past like the angriest storm,” and where being “exposed,” as she says in “Rambla dels Ocells,” is both a danger and a means of recovery, piecemeal of what Pavese calls a “secret reality coming to bloom.” From the personal to the familial to the social, Chang makes her moments resonate into a wondrous and redemptive whole.


Liz Chang’s poems remind us that ordinary life is only apparently so, as it offers up disjunctions and provocations, undercurrents of violence, and moments of fierce sensuousness to someone willing to observe them with a forthright gaze. These are the poems of a poet fully awake to what goes on within her and around her, and she renders all of it, through restraint and consistently fresh metaphors, as macabre but not threatening, necessitating a measure of courage, and ultimately familiar.