A Week with Beijing by Meg Eden
Publisher: Neon Books
Dog Eared Review by Lindsey Lewis Smithson (review contributor)
A Week with Beijing, the fourth collection from Meg Eden, chronicles the trip of two women, one a foreigner and the other a personification of Beijing, China. Together the women experience day-to-day life in one of the largest, most populated cities, in the world.
The collection walks a line between the personal, unique, experience everyone has while traveling and universal issues of culture, assimilation and individuality. No poem better exemplifies this duality than “Beijing Burns CDs.” The speaker of the poem observes (which is much of her function throughout the collection) a woman- “Beijing”- selling burned CDs, and she says “Maybe I expect her to grab me/the way the market women took me/like a wishbone, fighting for the larger/piece. Maybe I expect a price.” Beijing heartbreakingly responds “If I have/a daughter, I will have to kill her.”
Meg Eden’s ability here to make such deft moves, from searing specifics to a culture’s reality and history is beautiful. The true stand out of the collection though is the poem “A List Beijing Composed of her Phobias:” and it’s companion piece “A List of Beijing’s Discovered Phobias.” I was so blown away at the audacity of the first and cleverness of the second that I honestly made my husband read them, and then I read them aloud to him. Then I tweeted the poet.
Out of the entire collection the only thing I wish was different was the ending; I whole-heartedly wanted it would have ended with “A List Beijing Composed of her Phobias.” But maybe that’s just me, and the strong impression that poem had on me.
Eden’s book is a quick, engaging read that looks great on my iPad, which is a nice touch for poetry in that it can hard to format for ereaders. If you want to try a chapbook of poetry that is grounded and thoughtful, I highly recommend A Week with Beijing.
Dog Eared Pages:
6, 9, 10, 11, 12 13, 17, 18, 19, 21, 24, 25, 27, 28,
Lindsey Lewis Smithson is the Editor of Straight Forward Poetry. Some of her poetry has appeared on , , , and