Chen Chen's debut collection: reviews, interviews & recommendations
‘In a world of bombastic corporate LGBT Pride and an America publicly grappling with immigrant difference and integration, this is essential reading for “love & forgiveness”…’ – Alex Pryce, The Poetry Review, on When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities
The UK edition of Chen Chen's debut collection When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities was published by Bloodaxe in June 2019. 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.
Chen Chen came to the UK in October 2019 to give readings at Poetry International in London and at the Centre for New and International Writing at the University of Liverpool. He also gave an online reading for the Ledbury Poetry Festival in July 2021. His second collection Your Emergency Contact Has Experienced an Emergency is forthcoming from Bloodaxe in October 2022.
NATIONAL POETRY LIBRARY STAFF SUMMER PICK FOR CHEN CHEN
National Poetry Library, Staff Picks Summer 2022, online 2 August 2022
Chen Chen’s debut collection When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities was chosen by a National Poetry Library member of staff as her Summer 2022 recommendation.
‘Chen Chen’s poems continually surprise and delight me, with their luscious long lines and unfurling waves of imagery — from falling snow, to croissants, to Asian American sex symbols. Each time I come back to this collection I find something new; an image I read too quickly the first time, too hungry to take in the whole poem all at once. Some of my favourite, most tender love poems in the world live here in this book — love poems addressed not just to lovers but to parents, friends, food, and to the self.’ - Nina Powles, National Poetry Library Staff Picks Summer 2022, on When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities
Read the feature on the National Poetry Library website here.
PODCAST INTERVIEW WITH CHEN CHEN
Craft Podcast, Season 1, Episode 2, online 15 December 2021
A half-hour interview with Chen Chen featured on episode 2 of the new Craft Podcast from Wasafiri magazine. He was speaking about ‘Nature Poem’ from his debut collection When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities.
‘Chen Chen is an award-winning poet based in the United States. In this episode, he talks about the composition, editing, re-editing (and re-editing), process of his poem 'Nature Poem' published in his debut National Book award longlisted collection When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities (BOA Editions, 2017 and Bloodaxe Books, 2019). On apocalyptic pineapples, giving yourself permission, and what writers can learn from Marie Kondo.’
BBC RADIO 4 PODCAST PUBLICITY FOR CHEN CHEN
Saturday Review, BBC Radio 4, Saturday 29 June 2019, 7.15pm
Chen Chen’s UK debut When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities was the podcast choice of one of the guests on Radio 4’s Saturday Review on 29 June. Each reviewer has a podcast choice and talk about a piece of art that's caught their attention.
Cahal Dallat spoke about Chen Chen from 45.40 and said of the book that it showed ‘a wonderful imagination at work’.
Click here to listen (from 45.40). Available to download as a podcast or to listen via BBC Sounds.
The Guardian, Saturday 1 June 2019
Chen Chen’s UK debut When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities was reviewed by Mary Jean Chan in The Guardian’s monthly round-up of the best recent poetry on 1 June.
‘Chen Chen’s When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities asks how one might find humour, hope and joy amid the tensions that arise from conflicting loyalties. Queer, Asian-American and immigrant experiences collide to inform Chen’s sensual and vivid verse which attests to the surreal and dream-like nature of memory… Following in the footsteps of Walt Whitman, Allen Ginsberg and Frank O’Hara, Chen reaches for the sublime by offering his reader the seemingly quotidian… Chen reminds us in this tender and free-wheeling debut that all relationships are “a feat of engineering”, whether with one’s country, one’s family, or oneself.’ – Mary Jean Chan, The Guardian
The full review can be read here.
[19 August 2019]