Yellow Plum Season, Pui Ying Wong's first full-length collection of poetry, is visually lush and reflective; and characterized by intimate descriptions of place, memory and dream. In Yellow Plum Season, Wong speaks as a traveler from lands known and unknown yet creates a terrain all her own. She writes with delicacy and precision, small but complex narratives that cover a range of emotional landscapes. These are poems both personal and universal; poems that engage the reader in the human experiences of both loss and love, heartache but also moments of joy; and ultimately connects the reader to the desire for every aspect of life.
Yellow Plum Season is the debut collection of a poet whose stunning work has no real precedent. The character in "A Woman in Brooklyn..." says "I walk to walk out of myself...I walk to keep myself from shrieking," and one must wonder if Pui Ying Wong writes for similar reasons, which would explain the deep intensity of these poems, so transformative for reader and poet alike. In the unforgettable "After 'Landscape Near Auvers'..." when "mounds of hay/fuzz to gold in the sun," the reader stands amidst the cornflowers with Van Gogh. When (in "Hudson in July") "the sun wanes over the Hudson, its honey lights slick the water" the reader is at the river even from ten thousand miles away. And when gazing at the Chinese versions that start each section, the reader becomes fluent in Chinese, for the power this book has at its core is the radiance and meaning of poetry, a global language. I have never read a more remarkable collection!
Pui Ying Wong's poems take us on journeys both intimate and universal, across several continents to find "what world is still possible," even though "there are no more tickets to where you want to go." She reads the heart without flinching—rejecting the easy metaphors. Wong gives us urban landscapes: New York, Paris, Hong Kong—grounded in imagination, memory and everyday living. "Life," as the speaker in "The Reader Speaks to the Poet" reminds us, "is right here in this dust-fed room." And indeed it is! Yellow Plum Season is an honest and moving book of poems from a very accomplished poet.
Yellow Plum Season by Pui Ying Wong is a gift, a gift that comes every 500,000 years as the ancient Hindu calendars say. The poems reverberate with a quiet beauty like these lines convey "I want to disappear into a happy parade," "I want to play my old harmonica in the piazza," "late night ferries bobbing in the water/like lanterns held by angry men." This book is a gift you will keep for a very long time.