The Academy of American Poets invited twelve new guest editors to each curate a month of poems in 2019. In this short Q&A, Victoria Chang, the Poem-a-Day guest editor for May 2019, discusses her curating approach and her own creative work.
Poets.org: How did you approach curating Poem-a-Day for May?
Victoria Chang: I did a lot of thinking and list-making of poets I've read and enjoyed in the past. I'd be eating or walking or doing something, then suddenly another poet would come to mind. The biggest challenge is that the curators last year did a superb job, and since we couldn't pick a poet who had been published the year prior, I ended up not being able to ask a lot of people I had thought of. I appreciated this challenge and in the end, thought of around 50 poets. Luckily of that 50, these 23 had not been published last year. It's really a wonderful time for poetry. I'm so grateful these poets sent me such wonderful work.
Poets.org: If you could direct readers to one poem in our collection at Poets.org that you haven’t curated, what would it be and why?
VC: Since I'm working on a talk/seminar on Elizabeth Bishop, I'll pick a classic, "The Fish." I really just love the image of the fish in the poem with all the junk stuck in its mouth—all that history and toughness from all the times the fish had been caught before. I also love how the speaker connects with this battered fish and how she realizes that she must let the fish go in the end in order to live any sort of meaningful life. I love Bishop's detailed imagery. I'm excited to teach my class.
Poets.org: What are you working on now in your writing, teaching, or publishing life?
VC: Honestly, I'm working on too much. I'm working on a group of essays, my manuscript OBIT, is done, thankfully and will be out in 2020. I'm working on some new strange poems. I'm teaching at Antioch and working with a team to run that program. I also co-coordinate the Idyllwild Writers Week, and do about a bazillion other things. I also have a middle grade verse novel coming out that I'm super excited about. All in all, I'm living a good life and I'm grateful to be alive in the literary world today.