"Elaine Woo’s debut poetry collection opens with a birth, a book slipping into life surrounded by a “throng of reading witnesses.” Cycling with the Dragon is this book, a collection interested in the intersection of life and craft, the forming and gathering of thought and word. Woo’s speaker takes on traditional womanhood and the world as it stands, and emerges transmuted, a strong and able bellwether to an alternative way of being."
"Cycling with the Dragon is all about survival, from a difficult childhood with a demanding mother and cultural prejudices amongst peers, to an adulthood in which control, or at least a sense of balance, must be sought. Woo does this through facing and addressing those around her but also by communing with nature."
"With her background as a Chinese-Canadian poet, Woo depicts minority experiences and challenges with raw and heartfelt emotion. Her ability to play with diction, imagery, and form allows her to bring a distinct voice to explore identity, gender, family relations, racism, nature, and the creative process...And like a mesmerizing song, her book is one to be savoured slowly, again and again, creating a deeper impression with each re-reading."
"Woo's language is wide-ranging and constantly moving. At times, her poems are close studies of sound and scale: "Virtue of Smallness" moves from the scale of a minuscule pinky toe to the infinite ocean, conflating these two dichotomies altogether ("barnacle cone houses") in lyrical onomatopoeic lines ("soft-skinned / bladderwrack bulbs" or "hard-hatted clams" are my favourites.)
No matter her focus, Woo never strays far from the vibrancy of her chosen words. Her images are lively and colourful, even when the subject matter is dark or difficult.
Woo reveals her brave vision: weathering through the "storms" of trauma is necessary for giving birth to language ("linguistic") and fully understanding the "contours" of this universe."