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. Of her three so far, I've particularly enjoyed the works of Salvinia Molesta personally, but I would encourage my readers to take a look at what she's doing in any of her books.

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:

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