Praise for Elaine Woo's Books
Reviews of Put Your Hand in Mine
“‘Put Your Hand in Mine’ reads as a complicated tension between despair and hope as well as a call for women to hold hands across their differences. The Amazon Rain Forest is burning. Rafts of plastic pollute the speaker’s beloved ocean. By 2030, humans may use up all of the earth’s ability to replenish topsoil and, hence, food. Where does one find hope in the face of such realities? Woo turns repeatedly to the beauty of nature for her inspiration. It is this we poets must remember, and through our writings, speak out and call each other to accountability.”
The Maynard, Short-Form Shout-Out:
“The speaker within Elaine Woo’s second full-length collection is pretense-adverse, is PC-adverse. Rather than conform to social dictates, she risks candidly addressing the theater of the personal and the social. This speaker raises her voice to systems designed to create pecking orders and power structures, e.g. office politics and sexual harassment within work environments. She speaks out against divisions among workers and the trials of the working class.”
Reviews of Cycling With the Dragon
"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."
"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."