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International Examiner calls CHEN CHEN's collection 'masterful'

In a rave new review from Seattle's International Examiner, entitled "Chen Chen, Sjohnna McCray tackle nuanced relationships, identity," reviewer Michael Schmeltzer says, "When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities by Chen Chen is the latest A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize winner from BOA Editions, and it’s easy to understand why."

He continues, "While Emily Dickinson famously said poetry makes her feel as if the top of her head were taken off, Chen’s charming, aching poetry debut creates the sensation of hypersensitivity. I am placed firmly in the body and the surrounding world is made fresh. . . . This mix of bold imagination and gorgeous dream-logic welcomes the reader on every page. I am moved and delighted to the core until it feels as though I 'fell in love in midair.'"

Noting the author's exploration of identity throughout the collection, Schmeltzer says, "He expertly navigates the challenges of being a queer Asian-American with lyrical grace and wisdom. Chen delves into the complexities of society, identity, and family through a unique lens that is critical without being cynical. He projects a joyful maturity that contains an expansive, childlike wonder combined with intellectual insight. It’s a delicate balance but he handles it like one born on a tightrope. He tackles struggles with compassion and well- placed humor. More than once I laughed out loud and then nearly doubled over as he turned a grin into a grimace with cutting commentary. It’s an effective poetic maneuver that strikes a powerful chord."

The review concludes: "Chen acknowledges the wider history of the Asian-American experience in America while also writing from a personal perspective. He describes the domestic tension between his burgeoning queer identity as a teen and the expectations of his family. . . . This is a masterful book I’ll revisit repeatedly."

Click here to read the full International Examiner review

For more on Chen Chen's When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities, visit the BOA Bookstore.
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