LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR POETRY
WINNER OF THE THOM GUNN AWARD FOR GAY POETRY
WINNER OF THE GLCA NEW WRITERS AWARD
WINNER OF THE A. POULIN, JR. POETRY PRIZE
A LIBRARY JOURNAL BEST BOOK OF 2017 SELECTION: POETRY & LITERATURE
ON 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 Hospital
My mother was in the hospital & everyone wanted to be my friend.
But I was busy making a list: good dog, bad citizen, short
skeleton, 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 reasonable
pigeons. No one had the time & our solution to it
was to buy shinier watches. We were enamored with
what 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 family
grocery list. Low-fat yogurt, firm tofu. She didn’t trust my father
to be it. You always forget something, she said, even when
I 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.