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Obits. by Tess Liem

Winner of The A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry in 2019


Can poems mourn the unmourned?In Obits. a speaker tries and fails to write obituaries for those whose memorials are missing, those who are represented only as statistics. She considers victims of mass deaths, fictional characters, and her own aunt, asking what does it mean to be an ‘I’ mourning a ‘you’ when both have been othered? Centring vulnerability, the various answers to this question pass through trauma, depression, and the experience of being a mixed-race queer woman.


Key concept

To grieve is to adhere to the memory of
someone or something, as one does to a rule, closely,
as an owl’s eyes follow a mouse, or loyally,
as a wife to a wife, or unwaveringly,
as lake to shore, sort of; or, to divide,
as an election might do, as if by a cutting blow,
like have you seen the news? or, to split along the grain
the part of you that remembers
from the part of you that forgets.

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Coach House Books