Out of the Cocoon, Are You the Butterfly? by Can Zheng

Out of the Cocoon, Are You the Butterfly? by Can Zheng is a simple and beautiful collection of twenty-one short poems that reflect on the changes we all go through, and the perseverance we must hold onto, refusing to allow ourselves to give up. Zheng prefaces her poetry by explaining that English is her second language, which gives a whole new element to her words, as we realize they are coming from a place where other foreign words first originated for her. Her inspirational poems offer up ideas about creating a new self, and how one can move forward in life without being held back from the hardships that come our way. Right from the beginning, with the poem ‘Cope with Fate’ Zheng tells the reader through her words to not let fate drag the spirit down in a direct way. ‘The Letter,’ the next poem in this collection is more vague and philosophical, showing from the beginning that Zheng’s poetry varies in style and tone. Some of the strongest poems of the collection include ‘Lunar Eclipse,’ ‘Black Bunny,’ ‘Net,’ and ‘Rebirth.’ The collection ends with the poem ‘My Affirmation’ which repeats the word grateful over and over again, while mixing in other similar and opposite words to go up against it, showing that Zheng is thankful for the way her life has progressed.

This is a very readable collection of poetry, not only due to the shortness in length of the poems, and the number of pieces included within, but because of the way Zheng couples her words together, creating a symphony of emotions across the page. This collection could help lift someone’s spirits who was feeling down or depressed, as the words offered are the kind that urge you to keep moving forward, no matter the costs. Zheng has a talent for this kind of writing, and as her title so aptly suggests, her poetry causes the reader to contemplate who they are going to be.

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