‘Phrasis’ By Wendy Xu

I read her chapbook, Naturalism, some time back, and this fuller collection has a few crossover poems (including the titular Naturalism).

Phrasis is a very good and enjoyable collection, but not truly great. It struck me as the work of a very good poet, but it wasn’t one of those that really bowled me over, you know? Wordsworth bowls me over, but that can’t be the standard, can it? The first books I read by both Cathy Linh Che, Charles Simic, and Anne Carson both bowled me over.

But I don’t want to damn with faint praise. It’s very, very good. Sometimes she engages in some colloquialism or profanity that never quite takes – I don’t think she’s quite ruthless enough in her use of it – but her more ‘poetic’ lines and stanzas (that vast majority) are great.

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