Weyman Chan’s fifth collection takes poetry to the laboratory, splicing a layered, tactile network that is Human Tissue.
Short lyric poems navigate personal experience and memory, then weave into serial poems such as “Parables for Frankenstein,” diving into the material conditions of hybridity to construct the symbiotic self of a prototype misfit. “Panic Room,” another serial poem probes the loner whose isolation at a house party takes a sinister turn, and “Unboxing the Clone” explores the causality of creation, where “trace beings” are felt in flesh and voiced in colloquial speech.
Human Tissue creates a language that is intimate while acknowledging relations to the social environment. Accompanied by the tones of an erhu, archaic Anglo-Saxon language jostles with Chinese, and self-censure meets Faust and Judith Butler to ask the vital questions of origin. Chan shows us how we come to settle with histories of uncertain origin, the presence of science and technology in the mediated body, and how we forge “not-knowing” as a vibrant way of being.
“We get only what is absolutely necessary, what adds to the image being presented. The end result is economic, vivid, and clear.” —The Cascade
“[Chan] explores a vision of humanity in a technologically charged world … Human Tissue exudes a sense of immediacy and simultaneously displays a modernist influence … Technological terms, academic topics, and scientific language blend with an arsenal of colloquial terms … This clash of tradition and the contemporary, of the informal and the technical, contributes to the sense of anxiety in Chan’s poetry … [The combined effect is] a carefully crafted expression of being flesh in a partly robotic world.”—Canadian Literature