SplitSomewhere I had read about this book and added it to my online wishlist on the Barnes and Noble website (which I use as a way to store books I want to read or feel I should read; sometimes I buy them from Barnes and Noble, sometimes from other bookstores, and sometimes I check them out from the library; this one, as I will specify in more detail momentarily, I bought at a Barnes and Noble). Traffic was bad the other day, due to horrible rain and the inability of many local drivers to drive in… weather.

Barnes and Noble seemed like a good place to kill an hour and wait for things to ease up. I looked at some lit mags, some sci fi, and, of course, the poetry section. And there I saw Che’s book. Honestly, I had never expected to randomly see it in a chain bookstore. Bridgestreet Books, maybe, but that’s it. But there it was.

Naturally, I bought it.

And I took it to the little cafe and ordered a snack and some herbal tea (I’m getting old, because I think that it’s not a good idea to drink caffeine in the evening; I miss the younger me, who drank coffee all night with his friends, talking politics, poetry, and philosophy).

Split blew me away. Heartbreaking (sexual abuse by a family member is a repeated subject, as well as other kinds of loss of innocence, including those from her parents’ status and immigrants and refugees; also, oddly, cameras – the mechanical nature of a physical camera – makes more than a few appearances) in it’s narratives and marvelously crafted. Tending towards short couplets and three line stanzas (triplets?) with some indentations to keep the reader on his/her toes, but also with prose and prose-like poems and other forms.

Here’s a little bit from Pomegranate:

In the Underworld
I starve a season
while the world wilts

into the ghost
of a summer backyard.
My hunger open and raw.

I had a little trouble picking something, because her poems are just a little too long to quote in their entirety and don’t lend themselves to excerptation.

2 thoughts on “‘Split’ By Cathy Linh Che

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