Michelle Lin (Poetry) | Richmond, CA
Blurbs, Press & Reviews
A House Made of Water is a lyrical examination of daughterhood, womanhood, and Asian American identity. Elusive, but tactile, the collection wrestles beautifully with trauma and our inherited stories, seeking transformation throughout. What I love most is the intimacy of detail: the difficult weight of memory, the exquisite relief of disclosure. Lin’s debut is a document of deep feeling, in the vein of Li-Young Lee and Sylvia Plath, but told in a voice entirely her own.
—Cathy Linh Che
Home in A House Made of Water is mythical, cultural, and intimate. Michelle Lin writes like the daughter/exile of that home; someone both buoyed and drowned by its history. In one poem she conjures Aphrodite above the sea and the Little Mermaid beneath it. Another considers the various meanings of “chink.” Lin fuses an outsider’s longing and a native’s self-possession. She is at once spirited and restrained. Her poems are stunning visions of homesickness and escape.
In her titular poem, Michelle Lin writes: “For family, drag three dresses in a tub. Hang them up. Watch them fill with light.” Such is the experience of reading A House Made of Water: the poems here illuminate, with ecstatic precision and depth, the vagaries of family, alienation, the domestic, heartbreak, immigration history, and trauma—they swim deftly through waters “pearled/with grief.” The language enchants with the poet’s lyrical grip, elegiac yet alive: “My instinct with softness is/the same as any other’s—to touch or/to smother. Let me hold you.” These are haunting poems, and they are elevated by wonder, the permutations of pain and joy that make up the experience of living. In A House Made of Water, Michelle Lin has crafted an astonishing, shapeshifting debut.
—Sally Wen Mao
In Michelle Lin’s gorgeous debut collection, A House Made of Water, we enter the language of the dream, as if dream-space could produce its own off lexicon, its own wave-like syntax. Lin’s poetry is like a bright bloom after everything has been near dead for so long. If you want to be elevated, if you want to be transported away from the muck of the everyday and into what art can do–that bristling dimension–then read A House Made of Water. It just might save you.
—Dawn Lundy Martin