The Curator's Notes
A gorgeously deft book, The Curator's Notes dares to question the Edenic. It asks, why not take the knowledge at hand hanging like "plump, purple orbs...begging to be eaten..."? And what can we grow with states of paradise being ever fleeting? This curator is a custodian of both specific and collective heritage, connecting daughter to mother to grandmother to wife to husband to the backyard garden to that garden of old where, as in the womb, knowing is limited and inevitable. In her sensual and tender book, Robin Rosen Chang has taken care to graciously offer us lyrics that swirl around and beyond our expectations until we accept both the churning waters and the radiant flight of circling birds as part of the story of life moving all too swiftly with and ultimately toward "the loam -/sand, silt, and clay."
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About the Author
Robin Rosen Chang’s poems have appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, The Journal, Diode, North American Review, Cream City Review, The Cortland Review, Vinyl Poetry and Prose, and elsewhere. She has an MFA from the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. An earlier version of this collection was named a finalist for Warren Wilson’s 2018 Levis Alumni Award for a manuscript in progress. A native of Philadelphia, Robin has lived in different parts of the U.S. and overseas. She lives in New Jersey where she is an adjunct professor of English as a second language at Kean University. The Curator’s Notes is her debut full-length collection.
There's Eve. And the afterthought, Adam. And the Snake. Lost mothers and found mothers, all the same mother. There's love = husband, children = treasure. There's blood and tongue and orbits around the moon. There's a visit from the dead, a tiny bird in hand, water "from the outdoor spigot, freezing water needling / our skin." Which is to say, this surprising marvel of a book curates everything! The world under Robin Rosen Chang's good eye charms and sobers. But back to Eve: "...bite the apple," says this poet, "and she did."
The Curator's Notes is a book of confidences and great emotional lucidity. Hiding or waffling is not permitted. It reads like a gift, poem by poem, and in the rich, tonal revelation of the whole. Robin Rosen Chang has the lyrical felicity to harmonize pain and beauty, myth and domesticity, and everything she touches is subject to both her affinity for the natural world and her love for art and craft. Her accomplishment in this fine first book is to reach deeply into the tragic and bring out poems of real discovery.