Synopses & Reviews
Ken Chen is the 2009 winner of the annual Yale Younger Poets competition. These poems of maturation chronicle the poets relationship with his immigrant family and his unknowing attempt to recapture the unity of youth through comically doomed love affairs that evaporate before they start. Hungrily eclectic, the wry and emotionally piercing poems in this collection steal the forms of the shooting script, blues song, novel, memoir, essay, logical disputation, aphorism—even classical Chinese poetry in translation. But as contest judge Louise Glück notes in her foreword, “The miracle of this book is the degree to which Ken Chen manages to be both exhilaratingly modern (anti-catharsis, anti-epiphany) while at the same time never losing his attachment to voice, and the implicit claims of voice: these are poems of intense feeling. . . . Like only the best poets, Ken Chen makes with his voice a new category.”
"These are the poems of intense feeling; they have isolated and dramatized the profound dilemma of the adults relation to childhood in poems of riveting intelligence and sharp wit and austere beauty. Like only the best poets, Ken Chen makes with his voice a new category."—Louise Glück, from the Foreword
"Exquisitely stylized and wrenchingly felt."--Boston Review
"'Love is Like tautology in the same way like is like tautology' is . . . an example of Chen's excellence at transcending the cleverness which seems to come easily to him. . . . Chen's relentless search for honest words bends logical rigor, homes itself toward emotion."—Elsbeth Pancrazi, Pleiades
About the Author
Ken Chen is the executive director of the Asian American Writers Workshop. His work has been published or recognized in Best American Essays 2006, Best American Essays 2007, and The Boston Review of Books. A graduate of Yale Law School, he lives in Brooklyn, NY.