‘Tapping at Glass’
by Tim Tim Cheng
The poet baths in the tonal spectrum / where brilliance and sadness / are not far.
Tim Tim Cheng is a poet and a teacher from Hong Kong, currently based in the UK. Their poems are published or anthologized in POETRY, The Rialto, Ambit and elsewhere. Their latest appearances include the Hidden Door festival, Singapore Writers Festival, and BBC Scotland. They are a WrICE fellow, an Ignite fellow, plus a member of Southbank Centre’s New Poets Collective 2022/23.
This pamphlet possesses both a maturity and depth which is frankly staggering. There is so much presented, and an equal amount to learn. I’d say it’s one of the best pamphlets I’ve ever read since I began my journey as a poet.
What’s in it for Me?
From time to time, you are lucky enough as a reader to encounter something so utterly unique and compelling that your words will never do it real justice. Such it is with Tapping at Glass, which is the reminder that not all poets upbringings are alike, and many have to balance uncertainty and change along with the business of writing. There are centuries of history in the white spaces here, a life that the poetry only hints at but that I want, need to discover more context for. How Memory Works sent me scurrying for Wikipedia: Icarus, a girl, talks to interviewers made me wish I could combine ancestry and reality with even a fraction of Cheng’s artistry.
The music of these poems, their effortless construction and uninhibited openness, is the reminder of how balance in narrative and observation always makes for the most compelling work. Notes to impossibility, Salt and Rice are outstanding examples, an easy tone with the deepest of depths, but it is Field Notes that takes that conceit then delivers it with a series of gut punches. This is a life I am grateful to be shown, that is shared with a very specific intent.
In the end, however, it is the honesty that pervades every line which elevates this work to outstanding, and I am in awe of both the quality of the narrative and the depth of its consequence. This is a superlative debut, and hints at magnificence to come.
intertidal for the imagery
(H)ours for the inference
Salt and Rice for the impact
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