Erin Redfern earned her PhD in English at Northwestern University, where she also worked as a Fellow at the Searle Center for Teaching Excellence. In 2016, she shared the Poetry Society of America’s Robert H. Winner Award with Metta Sama. She has served as the poetry judge for the San Francisco Unified School District Arts Festival and as a reader for Poetry Center San Jose’s print publication, Caesura, and DMQ Review. She currently teaches writing as a tutor, workshop leader, and poetry mentor. Erin’s poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in the North American Review, the New Ohio Review, Otis Nebula, and Split Rock Review. Her chapbook is Spellbreaking and Other Life Skills (Blue Lyra Press). www.erinredfern.
Content by Erin Redfern
The Shadowless Gravedigger: On Victoria Chang’s “Obit”
BY Erin Redfern
The prose poems and tankas in Victoria Chang’s Obit are less traditional elegies than a series of verbal proofs through which Chang investigates those aspects of experience––grief, pain, love––that seem beyond our capacity to represent them. “Language fails us” more than once in this collection (it gets three obituaries of its own), and yet words are what the speaker of these poems must use both “to calculate my grief” and to convey it. These poems’ generous, meticulous record of grieving is inseparable from Chang’s retooling of poetic form and language.