Sage by Marilyn Chin

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.

“The poems of Sage are very much of our moment and its griefs and crises — and yet the music that propels them is ancient. Inventive, irresistible, illuminating— Marilyn Chin’s poems give music a pulse and in turn give the heart an orchestra of poetic forms to inhabit. These stunning poems stand up to injustice with verve and wit that make the body sway with delight as we try to make sense of our days in this ruthless late empire. Chin’s style is like no one else’s—she takes the best from tradition and puts it in playful service of true protest. A sage, indeed.” – Ilya Kaminsky, author of Deaf Republic

“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

“[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

“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