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Victoria Chang

Victoria Chang has received degrees from the University of Michigan, Harvard University, and Stanford University, as well as an MFA from Warren Wilson College.

She is the author of Barbie Chang (Copper Canyon Press, 2017); The Boss (McSweeney’s, 2013), winner of a PEN Center USA Literary Award and a California Book Award; Salvinia Molesta (University of Georgia Press, 2008); and Circle (Southern Illinois University Press, 2005). Chang is also the editor of the anthology Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation (University of Illinois Press, 2004) and author of a picture book, Is Mommy? (Beach Lane Books, 2015), illustrated by Marla Frazee. Her collection OBIT, forthcoming in 2020 from Copper Canyon Press, won the 2018 Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award from the Poetry Society of America.

Of her work, Ilya Kaminsky writes, “To say simply that Chang takes the Modernist’s music and makes it new again, makes it alive, is to say only half-truth, for she truly re-inhabits it, re-kindles the flame. This radically new music is political, yes, but it is also ecstatic.”

Chang, who received a 2017 Guggenheim Fellowship, serves as a contributing editor of Copper Nickel and a poetry editor of Tupelo Quarterly. Chang also serves on the National Book Critics Circle Board. She teaches in the MFA program at Antioch University and co-coordinates the Idyllwild Writers Week. She was the Poem-a-Day Guest Editor for May 2019, and lives in Southern California. 


Selected Bibliography

Barbie Chang (Copper Canyon Press, 2017)
The Boss (McSweeney’s, 2013)
Salvinia Molesta (University of Georgia Press, 2008)
Circle (Southern Illinois University Press, 2005)

By This Poet

16

OBIT [Memory]

Memory—died August 3, 2015.  The
death was not sudden but slowly over a
decade.  I wonder if, when people die,
they  hear  a  bell.   Or  if  they  taste
something sweet, or if they feel a knife
cutting them in half, dragging through
the flesh like sheet cake.  The caretaker
who witnessed my mother’s death quit. 
She holds the memory and images and
now they are gone.  For the rest of her
life, the memories are hers.  She said
my mother couldn’t breathe, then took
her last breath 20 seconds later.  The
way I have imagined a kiss with many
men I have never kissed.  My memory
of  my  mother’s  death  can’t  be  a
memory but is an imagination, each
time the wind blows, leaves unfurl
a little differently.

Mr. Darcy

Then we are in the back seat of a car kissing
           not the light kind but one where our
    hands are on each other’s cheeks holding
                 each other’s heads as if they will fall

off why does so much love come at the beginning
           then disappear then once again at the moment
      before death why can’t the same kind exist
                  in between in the breaths in the

afternoon in the sitting room in a place of costumes
            little girls dress like princesses one pink one
      blue one yellow they wear plastic heels because
                 they still think they will never fall

Dear P.

Someone will        love you     many will      love

you         many will brother you   some of these

loves will        bother you   some   will      leave you

one might        haunt   you      hunt you in your

sleep        make you       weep the tearless kind of

weep the         kind of weep   that drowns your

organs     slowly    there are little oars  in your body      

little boats   grab onto them and row and        row

someone will tell you      no       but you won’t   know

he is    right until you have   already        wrung your  

own heart dry    your hands dripping knives    until

you have    already   reached your hands into       his       

body and put them through his        heart     love is

the only thing that       is not    an       argument