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About this poet

Tina Chang was born in 1969 in Oklahoma to Chinese immigrants. She and her family moved to Queens, New York, a year later. Chang attended Binghamton University and received her MFA in poetry from Columbia University.

She is the author of Of Gods and Strangers (Four Way Books, 2011) and Half-Lit Houses (2004), which was a finalist for an Asian American Literary Award from the Asian American Writers Workshop.

Chang is the coeditor, with Nathalie Handal and Ravi Shankar, of Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry From the Middle East, Asia and Beyond (W.W. Norton, 2008).

She has held residencies at MacDowell Colony, Djerassi Artist's Residency, Vermont Studio Center, Fundacion Valparaiso, Ragdale, Blue Mountain Center, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She has also received awards from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts, Poets & Writers, and the Van Lier Foundation.

Chang was elected Brooklyn poet laureate in 2010. She currently teaches at Sarah Lawrence College.

Celestial

Tina Chang, 1969
When everything was accounted for 
you rummaged through my bag to find 
something offensive: a revolver, 
a notebook of misinterpreted text. 

I'm God's professor. 
His eyes two open ovens.
He has a physical body
and it hiccups and blesses. 

Tell me a story before the mudslide, 
tell it fast before the house falls,
before it withers in the frost, before 
it dozes off next to the television.

I couldn't tell if it was that screen
or the sky spitting dust and light.

Copyright © 2010 by Tina Chang. Used by permission of the author.

Copyright © 2010 by Tina Chang. Used by permission of the author.

Tina Chang

Tina Chang

Born in 1969, Tina Chang was a finalist for an Asian American Literary Award from the Asian American Writers Workshop for her debut collection Half-Lit Houses.

by this poet

poem
I'm the one in the back of the bar, drinking cachaça, 
fingering the lip of the glass. Every dream has left 
me now as I wait for the next song:  Drag and drum. 
They'll be no humming in this room, only fragrance 
of sweat and fuel. To make the animal go. To make it 
Hungry.  After that there is Thirst. 

* 

I
poem
It is the smallest idea born in the interior will,

that has no fury nor ignorance,

no intruder but stranger, no scaffold of a plea,

no mote of the hungry, no pitchfork of instinct,

no ladder of pity, no carriage of lust,

no wavering foot on concrete, no parish of bees,

no mountains of coal, no limestone
poem
_____

I was locked into a single seed, my future fathoming. 
I was matter underwater and a sheer hoping, 
when I latched to earth, a first withered bloom. 
A sonic wonder, I sang about the future.
I was master of the oxen pulling me toward dawn, 
an existence first in death, a state of stillness 
before