In “Obit,” poet Victoria Chang prefers the stark, objective language of the journalistic obituary form to the elegy, overflowing with sorrowful and often florid language.
The immediate spark for these poems was her mother’s death in 2015. But Chang’s obituaries memorialize not just people but also lost things—appetite, language, control. Printed in narrow columns as if clipped from a newspaper, these pieces are interspersed with shorter pieces, giving multiple forms to a single voice’s expression of loss.
For giving strikingly original language to the universal experience of grief, in a year in which too many lives have been lost, Victoria Chang is the recipient of this year’s Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Poetry.
Enjoy this profile on Chang from our 2021 documentary. You can watch the full program here.