poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

About this poet

Victoria Chang has received degrees from the University of Michigan, Harvard University, and Stanford University, as well as an MFA from Warren Wilson College.

She is the author of Barbie Chang (Copper Canyon Press, 2017); The Boss (McSweeney’s, 2013), winner of a PEN Center USA Literary Award and a California Book Award; Salvinia Molesta (University of Georgia Press, 2008); and Circle (Southern Illinois University Press, 2005). Chang is also the editor of the anthology Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation (University of Illinois Press, 2004) and author of a picture book, Is Mommy? (Beach Lane Books, 2015), illustrated by Marla Frazee. Her collection OBIT, forthcoming in 2020 from Copper Canyon Press, won the 2018 Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award from the Poetry Society of America.

Of her work, Ilya Kaminsky writes, “To say simply that Chang takes the Modernist’s music and makes it new again, makes it alive, is to say only half-truth, for she truly re-inhabits it, re-kindles the flame. This radically new music is political, yes, but it is also ecstatic.”

Chang, who received a 2017 Guggenheim Fellowship, serves as a contributing editor of Copper Nickel and a poetry editor of Tupelo Quarterly. Chang also serves on the National Book Critics Circle Board. She teaches in the MFA program at Antioch University and co-coordinates the Idyllwild Writers Week. She lives in Southern California.


Selected Bibliography
Barbie Chang (Copper Canyon Press, 2017)
The Boss (McSweeney’s, 2013)
Salvinia Molesta (University of Georgia Press, 2008)
Circle (Southern Illinois University Press, 2005)

How Alone Barbie Chang's Mother

How alone Barbie Chang’s mother
     must have felt doing
 
nothing but dying her mother actually
     stopped dying her hair
 
in January stopped being an actuary
     for her money she
 
must have known her time was limited
     did the diseased birch
 
tree know they were going to cut it down
     how quickly the air
 
around it filled in the space it does no
     good to know a mother’s
 
face who would have known that a 
     mother’s face could
 
be erased too at some point we are all
     eliminated from this
 
earth at some point most of us give birth
     at some point we lose
 
a mother at some point we are all
     disappointments who
 
can’t possibly care for others when
     our mothers die we
 
are all lost and there are no words for
     it some want to
 
name us as grieving others wrongly
     name us heroes
 

From Barbie Chang (Copper Canyon Press, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Victoria Chang. Used by permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org.

From Barbie Chang (Copper Canyon Press, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Victoria Chang. Used by permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org.

Victoria Chang

Victoria Chang

Victoria Chang is the author of Barbie Chang (Copper Canyon Press, 2017). She lives in Southern California.

by this poet

poem
The Blue Dress—died on August 6,
2015, along with the little blue flowers, 
all silent. Once the petals looked up.  
Now small pieces of dust. I wonder 
whether they burned the dress or just 
the body? I wonder who lifted her up 
into the fire? I wonder if her hair 
brushed his cheek before it grew into a
2
poem
Barbie Chang got her hair done for
     the school auction
 
she was afraid sick of the Circle since
     she heard of their
 
shopping for matching dresses so out
     of the nest she flew
 
into the auction thinking she
poem
Once Barbie Chang worked on a
     street named Wall
 
once she sprinkled her yard with
     timed water once
 
she wore lanyards in large rooms
     all the chairs
 
pointed in the direction of one
     speaker