recombinant

recombinant

$16.95Price

Ching-In Chen

  • DETAILS

    2017, 96 pages

    ISBN 978-0-932-71686-6

     

    DESCRIPTION

    Can a poetry seek to examine the erasure and reconstruction of a community history? Ching-In Chen’s recombinant is a work of material critique, philosophically jarring in its use of syntax, sound, the erasures held in the stillness of its whitespace that again and again mimic a historical registry. Drafting and growing multiple discourses, this text urges the reader to investigate female and genderqueer lineages in the context of labor smuggling and trafficking. Its syntactical utterances create a music that is masterful in these poems’ fractured words and experimental representation of page and praxis. Voices from various communities interact with each other to create what Rajagopalan Radhakrishnan calls an assertion of diasporan realities where multi-directional, heterogeneous modes of representation challenge conventional representation via photographs; newspaper articles; maps; city directories; records of immigration, birth, and death; as well as scholarly research and archaeological records. recombinant is a work of insistence, a refusal of erasure, a proof of shared memory through the rewriting and remixing of historical remnant.

     

    BIOGRAPHY

    Ching-In Chen is the author of The Heart's Traffic (Arktoi/Red Hen Press, 2009) and recombinant (Kelsey Street Press, 2017). Born of Chinese immigrants, they are a Kundiman, Lambda, Callaloo and Watering Hole Fellow and a member of the Macondo and Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundations writing communities. A community organizer, they have worked in the Asian American communities of San Francisco, Oakland, Riverside, and Boston, as well as helped organize the third national Asian Pacific American Spoken Word and Poetry Summit in Boston. Chen is also the co-editor of The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities (South End Press, 2011) and Here Is a Pen: an Anthology of West Coast Kundiman Poets (Achiote Press, 2009).

    Chen's poetry has been featured at poetry readings across the country, including Poets Against Rape, Word from the Streets, and APAture Arts Festival: A Window on the Art of Young Asian Pacific Americans. Their work has been published in anthologies and journals including Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics, A Face to Meet the Faces: an Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry, Quarterly West, Court Green, Indiana Review, Diagram, Iron Horse Literary Review, and BorderSenses. They have won an Oscar Wilde honorable mention for "Two River Girls," a poem from The Heart's Traffic.

     

    Their poem-play "The Geisha Author Interviews," also from The Heart's Traffic, was nominated for a John Cauble Short Play Award. Chen has also been awarded residencies and fellowships from Soul Mountain Retreat, Vermont Studio Center, the Fine Arts Work Center, the Paden Institute, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Millay Colony for the Arts, the Norman Mailer Center, Ragdale Foundation, and Can Serrat.

     

    A graduate of Tufts University, they earned an MFA in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts from the University of California, Riverside and a PhD at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. They currently teach creative writing at Sam Houston State University, where they are a poetry editor for the Texas Review.

  • PRAISE

    The sweat of migrants, the starving bodies of impoverished workers, the they-children raised for export, the identification cards of the disobedient bodies with multiple names, the testimonies in interrogation rooms, the manufactured girl-bombs: the historical and linguistic presence, aliveness and residue of ancestral, immigrant lineages…in recombinant these entities are synthesized into brilliantly engineered narratives that chronicle the limits of what can be held at the borders we construct around our various identities, be they bodily, linguistic, national, occupational, familial, commercial….This is an intricate, careful, impression-making, impressive novel of a poem that necessarily exposes the secret testimonies and histories of the worlds among us that our larger world wishes us to never understand or see.

    —Daniel Borzutzky

     

    Promising “[n]o memory what I held in my mouth that bright morning,” Ching-In Chen’s recombinant undertakes the difficult work of witnessing without false promises of consolation or recognition. Accumulating and unsettling the cartographic records and rememorabilia of lives lived and lives lost to violence in this land that is always island, recombinant maps histories of Yellow Peril, race riots, and white slavery, the latter as imaginary alibi for the former, and opens out their interlock with and interlocution of anti-Black racisms, slaveries and lynchings and ongoing colonial genocides of Indigenous peoples.

     

    How might a poem diagram destruction? What survives records or doesn’t, leaves traces, ledgers or ghosts’ marginalia? It is a bleak and beautiful summoning, one that discovers/inscribes a world anew in testifying to the destruction of this one.

    —Trish Salah

     

    Ching-In Chen’s recombinant is an innovative and powerful collection about genealogy, migration, survival, gender, memory, and ecology. The poems unearth and recombine fragments from museum artifacts, laws, census data, and historical archives with lyric reflections and open-heart composition strategies. By the end, you will feel haunted by the ghosts and ancestors who have continued their journey in the vessel of the poet’s tongue.

    —Craig Santos Perez

     

     

    MORE INFORMATION

    Ching-In Chen