Nowhere Near Moloka'i by Gary Chang Bear Star Press, 2004, 68 pp., $12 (paper) Nowhere Near Moloka'i (2004), Gary Chang's intriguing first book, is a bizarre, sometimes comic and often tragic interlinking of poetic narratives, some mimetic in content and style, some with a metaphoric, almost mythic symbolic intensity. Recurring characters like "Greydog," "Old Man" and the wonderfully odd "Captain Aloha" lend cohesion to the whole, yet this book refuses to be about its characters. "At Colorado State, the post-modern poet says I possess/an aesthetic for death," Chang writes in "For Those Impure Words Not Selected." Indeed, death figures strongly throughout this book, as does place; Chang's vision of Hawaii is characterized by a sense of belonging that transcends human mortality. Bear Star Press has earned a reputation for accepting challenging work outside the literary mainstream. (See, for example, Arlitia Jones's awardwinning The Bandsaw Riots.) That reputation will be bolstered by this latest offering. Though set in Hawaii, this is hardly a tourist's guidebook. From the first poem, in which Chang writes, "with no sound/mano accelerates off the ocean floor," the poems explain nothing, make no allowance for readers' possible ignorance of Hawaiian landmarks or slang. The strength
The Missouri Review – University of Missouri
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