Cammie Finch reviews “all girls”

12 May 2016 / Justin

Review of Elizabeth Tsung’s all girls will not feel pretty at some point

By Cammie Finch


Elizabeth Tsung’s debut chapbook of poems is the kind of book which demands to be read again and again. Tsung’s poetic voice is so strong, the only way to read her beautiful product is aloud. Her voice stretches through the pages, punches through walls, flosses through teeth, and covers the generations, land masses, and social anxieties of her ancestors. The topics of her poems are relevant, pressing, and relatable to all in one capacity or another. Although I myself am not Asian American, for a poem or two, I transcended bodies and ethnicities, and felt social pressures unknown to me before. That is what separates great writing from good writing – the ability to slap a new set of eyes and a second heart onto the reader and give them a chance to experience someone else’s way of living and being. Even when she says she is having “conversations with myself,” Tsung opens up courageously to you – the reader. She wants you to listen. And so we nod and listen very closely.


Elizabeth, along with her editors, have arranged the poems in a naturally flowing way, each divided by a blank page which creates moments for pause, meditation, thought, questioning, and rereading. I also greatly appreciated Tsung’s range of poetic styles. One page might be a paragraph-length prose poem, while the next page displays a single musing, hacked up by slashmarks. This keeps the pace fresh, snappy, and energetic.


Along with the raw sketches by Trevor Williams, Elizabeth’s mastery of language reminds us that a blessing can be a glass of lemon water poured by your mother; the happiest of tunes can have hidden sorrows; skin color is something you can buy at the drugstore; the best kind of poetry and truth-seeking begins with a question. I highly recommend picking up Elizabeth Tsung’s poetry as soon as you can! You might find a piece of yourself within the poems – a piece of yourself you’ve been waiting to catch or perhaps you didn’t even know was yours.


Buy the book!