Wednesday, October 26, 2016

[Poet Spotlight] Victoria Chang

This weekend, had a chance to catch poet Victoria Chang reading at the Altadena Library at an event organized by Dr. Elline Lipkin, Poet Laureate for the Altadena Library District.

It was an enjoyable reading for me because I first came across Victoria Chang in 2004 interviewing her for Asian American Press in Minnesota but this was the first time we met in person in 12 years, which has a certain poetry to it. The University of Minnesota's Voices from the Gap program archived the interview a few years back  regarding her anthology, Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation, published by the University of Illinois Press in 2004. Chang’s fourth book of poems, Barbie Chang is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press in 2018.

I'm often interested in the work she's doing as a poet because she has roots in Michigan, where I spent many of my own formative years. Also, she owns dachshunds, so that's always a plus in my book. During her reading she shared selections from her upcoming collection as well as her third book, The Boss.

The Boss was published by McSweeney’s in 2013 as part of the McSweeney’s Poetry Series and won a PEN Center USA Literary Award and a California Book Award.

Her second book, Salvinia Molesta, was published by the University of Georgia Press as part of the VQR Poetry Series in 2008. In nature, the Salvinia Molesta is considered by many to be “the worst weed in the world.”  It is illegal to sell or possess in the US due to its rapid, uncontrollable invasive nature. In her book, Chang explored this image of vitality and evil to focus on corporate greed, infidelity and desire, and historical atrocities,

Her first book, Circle, won the Crab Orchard Review Open Competition Award and was published by Southern Illinois University Press in 2005.  Inspired by the premise of the Ralph Waldo Emerson essay, Circles, Chang explored the shape as a framing trope for contemplating gender, family, and history in verse.

Her poems have appeared in Kenyon Review, American Poetry Review, POETRY, Believer, New England Review, VQR, The Nation, New Republic, The Washington Post, Best American Poetry, and elsewhere.

She is a contributing editor of the literary journal, Copper Nickel. You can visit her website at:

Friday, October 21, 2016

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Eye to the Telescope 22: Ghosts now live! (In a manner of speaking)

Eye to the Telescope’s 22nd issue, Ghosts, is now online at! This issue was guest edited by the award-winning writer Shannon Connor Winward (Undoing Winter, To the Touch). This time around, she presents 27 distinctive poets from around the world, including SFPA Grandmaster Jane Yolen, Rhysling award-winners, and newer voices in the speculative poetry community.

In her introduction to this issue, she notes, “...the poems in this “Ghosts” issue posit unusual, unexpected visions of afterlife. Some are more far-out than others, but all seek to explore the unmeasured places—the impossible phone call, the uncanny weather, the haunted oceans of earth and not-earth, the shadows between pages, steps, spoonfuls. I hope you brought a spectacular appetite—and a flashlight.”

Eye to the Telescope is the quarterly online journal publishing science-fiction, fantasy, horror, and other speculative poetry under the auspices of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. Recent themes have included Family, Mythopoesis, Music and more. In January, guest editor Brian Garrison will present an assortment of exceptional poems centered on Robots.

Shannon Connor Winward’s writing appears widely including Pseudopod, Analog, Gargoyle, Pedestal Magazine, Star*Line, Strange Horizons and Literary Mama, among others. Her poetry chapbook Undoing Winter (Finishing Line Press, 2014) was recognized with an SFPA Elgin Award for Chapbook of the Year. She is a sometime-editor for the SFPA’s Halloween Poetry Reading page, and a staff writer for Pop Culture Madness, and poetry editor for Devilfish Review. You can visit her website at to learn more about her.

The featured poems she selected for this issue are:
Tulpa • L.W. Salinas
Hart Island • Holly Walrath
Mysticeti • Akua Lezli Hope
Upstairs Watches, Downstairs Waits • Robin Husen
A Night at Gran’ma Ginny’s • Dawn Cunningham
Be My Geist: A Villanelle • Suzan Pickford
Admittance • Cathleen Allyn Conway
Not a Destination • F.J. Bergmann
Fevered Ream • Daniel R. Jones
Hex Machina • Joe Nazare
Ma’s Late Knight Jam Session • Oliver Smith
Ghost Month • Christina Sng
Summer Hauntings • Andrea Blythe
No Longer Mine • Aisha Tayo Ijadunola
The Doppelgänger and the Ghost • Lev Mirov
Romance • Jessica J. Horowitz
Little Lost Cosmonaut • Charles Christian
“in the starship junkyard” • Lauren McBride
New World Haunting • Ann K. Schwader
Possession • Deborah L. Davitt
Three Worlds • Wendy Rathbone
Bright Matter • John W. Sexton
a stranger in the cemetery whispered to me • Rebecca Buchanan
Embracing the Bear • Jane Yolen
undying • John C. Mannone
SĂ©ance at Black Horse Pike • James Edward O’Brien
But after • Alex Harper

For those of you who are curious, you can see find the contributor bios here, along with all of the previous poets who’ve submitted to Eye to the Telescope in the past. Anyone who’s looking to expand their reading list of poets would do well to consider some of the voices featured here. I thank everyone who contributed such imaginative pieces to this issue, and I hope you find inspiration in these verses. Here’s to Ghosts, then, and all that they inspire now and in the future!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Jane Wong's The Poetics of Haunting

One of my absolute favorite reads/experiences of the Fall in poetry this year has been Jane Wong's "The Poetics of Haunting"or more fully, "The Poetics of Haunting in Asian American Poetry." It pushes the boundaries of our expectations with a wonderful intersection of the oral and the visual.

This is a digital humanities project based on her dissertation, with powerful and stunning performances/conversations/videos/poems/images/ephemera by Asian American poets Don Mee Choi, Bhanu Kapil, Diana Khoi Nguyen, Pimone Triplett, Monica Sok, Cathy Linh Che, Sally Wen Mao, Christine Shan Shan Hou, and Jane Wong's communion with Theresa Hak Kyung Cha.

I'm very intrigued by Jane Wong's dissertation and the Asian American poets she brought together for this project. I believe there's a tremendous amount for us to consider here in the ongoing discussions of speculative poetry, both from a technical standpoint, as well as the content.

Audio, video, text, illustrations and photography intersect significantly with history, folklore, tradition and other aspects of the human experience. I appreciate this deeply for showing us what's possible, even as I wonder where all of this could take us next.

This is absolutely essential for all emerging and experience Asian American poets to experience.