When I grow up I want to be a list of further possibilities

Chen Chen, 1989-

Book - 2017

"In this ferocious and tender debut, Chen Chen investigates inherited forms of love and family -- the strained relationship between a mother and son, the cost of necessary goodbyes -- all from Asian American, immigrant, and queer perspectives. Holding all accountable, this collection fully embraces the loss, grief, and abundant joy that come with charting one's own path in identity, life, and love. When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities. To be a season of laughter ...when my father says his coworker is like that, he can tell because the guy wears pink socks, see, you don't, so you can't, you can't be one of them. To be the one my parents raised me to be. A season from the stormiest planet. A very good feeling with a man. Every feeling, in pink shoes. Every step, hot pink."--

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Series
A. Poulin, Jr. new poets of America series ; v. 39.
Subjects
Genres
Poetry
Published
Rochester, NY : BOA Editions, Ltd 2017.
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
96 pages ; 23 cm
Awards
A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize, 2016.
ISBN
9781942683339
1942683332
Main Author
Chen Chen, 1989- (author)
Other Authors
Jericho Brown (writer of foreword)
Review by Library Journal Reviews

Visually vivid, erotic and intimate, at times bitingly funny, and refreshingly world-observant, Chen's poems are steeped in the pain of being other as both Asian American and gay. He's excellent at relating the confusion of childhood, recalling "Mom & Dad's/ idiot faces, yelling at me" as they confront his sexuality and grappling with the consequences of his heritage. The standout poem "First Light" enumerates many different, often outré ways Chen envisions having come to this country, embodying the kind of imagination it takes to adapt to a new culture. Throughout, there's ratcheted-up emotion yet an amazing command of language: "I carried in my snake mouth a boxful/ of carnal autobiographies" says the world. VERDICT An A. Poulin Jr. Poetry Prize winner; expansive work for expansive audiences. Copyright 2017 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Chen balances the politics surrounding shame and desire with hearty doses of joy, humor, and whimsy in his vibrant debut collection. To consider the titular act of growing up—to recognize what potential could mean—Chen must make sense of his past to imagine a better future in his poems. "I thought I could/ tell this story, give it a way out of itself," he writes. To this end he recounts a personal history in which he playfully addresses deeply serious issues, particularly a longing to defy the fate prescribed to him by family members or others' cultural ideas of normalcy: "I am not the heterosexual neat freak my mother raised me to be." As a gay, Asian-American poet, Chen casts his poems as both a refusal of the shame of sexuality and of centering whiteness or treating it as a highly desirable trait. Readers encounter sharp, delightful turns between poems, as Chen shifts from elegy to ode and back again. He also toys with language, as when he mulls the plight of someone's ill mother: "all I can think of is how sick's/ also a word for ‘cool.'?" Moving between whimsy and sobriety, Chen both exhibits and defies vulnerability—an acute reminder that there are countless further possibilities. (Apr.) Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"In this ferocious and tender debut, Chen Chen investigates inherited forms of love and family -- the strained relationship between a mother and son, the cost of necessary goodbyes -- all from Asian American, immigrant, and queer perspectives. Holding all accountable, this collection fully embraces the loss, grief, and abundant joy that come with charting one's own path in identity, life, and love. When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities. To be a season of laughter when my father sayshis coworker is like that, he can tell because the guy wears pink socks, see, you don't, so you can't, you can't be one of them. To be the one my parents raised me to be. A season from the stormiest planet. A very good feeling with a man. Every feeling, in pink shoes. Every step, hot pink."--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR POETRYWINNER OF THE THOM GUNN AWARD FOR GAY POETRYWINNER OF THE GLCA NEW WRITERS AWARDWINNER OF THE A. POULIN, JR. POETRY PRIZEA LIBRARY JOURNAL BEST BOOK OF 2017 SELECTION: POETRY & LITERATUREON NPR BOOKS'S LIST OF "POETRY TO PAY ATTENTION TO: 2017'S BEST VERSE"In this ferocious and tender debut, Chen Chen investigates inherited forms of love and family—the strained relationship between a mother and son, the cost of necessary goodbyes—all from Asian American, immigrant, and queer perspectives. Holding all accountable, this collection fully embraces the loss, grief, and abundant joy that come with charting one's own path in identity, life, and love.In the HospitalMy mother was in the hospital & everyone wanted to be my friend.But I was busy making a list: good dog, bad citizen, shortskeleton, tall mocha. Typical Tuesday.My mother was in the hospital & no one wanted to be her friend.Everyone wanted to be soft cooing sympathies. Very reasonablepigeons. No one had the time & our solution to itwas to buy shinier watches. We were enamored withwhat our wrists could declare. My mother was in the hospital& I didn't want to be her friend. Typical son. Tall latte, short tale,bad plot, great wifi in the atypical café. My mother was in the hospital& she didn't want to be her friend. She wanted to be the familygrocery list. Low-fat yogurt, firm tofu. She didn't trust my fatherto be it. You always forget something, she said, even whenI do the list for you. Even then.Chen Chen was born in Xiamen, China, and grew up in Massachusetts. His work has appeared in two chapbooks and in such publications as Poetry, Gulf Coast, Indiana Review, Best of the Net, and The Best American Poetry. The recipient of the 2016 A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize, he has been awarded fellowships from Kundiman, the Saltonstall Foundation, Lambda Literary, and in 2015, he was a finalist for the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowships. He earned his BA at Hampshire College and his MFA at Syracuse University. Currently, he is pursuing a PhD in English and Creative Writing at Texas Tech University. Chen lives in Lubbock, Texas, with his partner, Jeff Gilbert, and their pug dog, Rupert Giles.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

This award-winning debut interrogates the fragile, inherited ways of approaching love and family from Asian American, immigrant, and queer perspectives.