Marilyn Chin

Norton, 2023

Agent: Sandra Dijkstra

A rebellious, refined, provocative, and audacious volume from award-winning poet Marilyn Chin.

In her galvanizing sixth collection of poems, Marilyn Chin once again turns moral outrage into unforgettable art. A rambunctious take on our contemporary condition, Sage shifts skillfully in tone and register from powerful poems on social justice and the pandemic to Daoist wild girl satire.

A self-described "activist-subversive-radical-immigrant-feminist-transnational-Buddhist-neoclassical-nerd poet," Chin is always reinventing herself. In Sage, she sings fearless identity anthems, pulls farcical details from an old diary, and confronts the disturbing rise in violence against Asian Americans. Leaping between colloquialisms and vivid imagery, anger and humor, she merges the personal and political with singular, resilient spirit.

Whether she is spinning tall tales, mixing Chinese poems with hip-hop rhymes, reinventing lovelorn folk songs with a new-world anxiety, or penning a raucous birthday poem, a heartrending elegy, or an "un-gratitude" prayer, Chin offers dazzling surprises at every turn.

“In true pioneering spirit, Hong Kong-born Marilyn Chin both celebrates her hyphenated heritage and rues the conflicts that arise from her daily interface with the mainstream. Her writing is electric and more than a little mischievous; she is cagey in the way that any good prophetess knows is the way to survive.” —Rita Dove, Washington Post

“Chin’s dazzling longing creates a past that becomes essential to our understanding of her elliptical and passionately insistent poetic statement.” —Carol Muske Dukes, Los Angeles Times

“With biting sarcasm and caustic tone (just two of the weapons in her rhetorical arsenal), [Marilyn Chin] makes individual despair an allegory for society’s ills, in a larger process of unifying opposites, formally joining East with West, thematically conflating life with death, as of course they always are.… She inflects received concepts and categories with a vision of meaningful, hidden connection.” —Henry Louis Gates Jr., Anisfield-Wolf Book Award Chair

“Marilyn Chin’s poems excite and incite the imagination through their brilliant cultural interfacings, their theatre of anger, ‘fierce and tender,’ their compassion, and their high mockery of wit. Reading her, our sense of the possibilities of poetry is opened further, and we feel again what an active, powerful art it can be.” —Adrienne Rich

“In [Marilyn Chin’s] poem-songs, counterparts make a counterpoint of sorrow and glee.” —Joy Harjo

“[Chin’s] poems combine sumptuous imagery and a startling, articulate intelligence to explore and record the horrifying as well as the satisfying, the seductive components of hyphenated American identity.” —June Jordan