Tina Chang’s poems address the problems of family and heritage, initially inhabiting formally patterned stanzas that mimic the boundaries and bonds that are her subject, and then opening into free(-er) verse as the collection progresses and tries to break out of what has been imposed--both narratively and technically. These are passionate and accessible poems, simple in diction and declaration, elegant in image and syntax.
"Tina Chang’s poems perform the ancient tasks of remembrance, recovery, and praise. This work seeks to account for a life in the context of the myths, cultural and familial, that both nurture and threaten that very life and the voice that might sing it into legend. This is a poetry of amazing lushness, melancholy and affirmation." — Li-Young Lee
"I am the only one in the car / without a baby. I can say this / in seven dialects. Such are the full-formed thoughts emerging from Half-Lit Houses by Tina Chang. In 40-plus lyrics, Chang channels historical settings (mostly varying provinces in '30's and '40's China) and limns an identity marked by Life broken down by the sallow tongue and feverish saliva, / the salt and sauce defeating you."