Saturday, March 18, 2017, 2-4p
MicroSpace Houston – 8119 Concho st, Houston, Texas 77036
Ching-In Chen will present a live reading of their newest book ‘recombinant’ along with a Q&A with the author, and a book signing. Copies of the book will be available for $15 (cash), $16.95 + tax (credit).
Donations for the artist and artspace graciously accepted. Concessions available for donation.
Please note: The venue has a few steps at the entryway and is not wheelchair accessible. If you have accessabilty needs please contact us and we will make accommodations. Microspacehouston@gmail.com
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.
Praise for ‘recombinant’:
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.
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.
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’
About Ching-In Chen:
‘Ching-In Chen is author of ‘The Heart’s Traffic’ (Arktoi Books/Red Hen Press) and ‘recombinant’ (Kelsey Street Press) and co-editor of ‘The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities’ (South End Press, AK Press) and ‘Here is A Pen: an Anthology of West Coast Kundiman Poets’ (Achiote Press). A Kundiman, Lambda, Watering Hole and Callaloo Fellow, they are part of the Macondo and Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation writing communities, and have been a participant in Sharon Bridgforth’s Theatrical Jazz Institute. They have also been awarded fellowships from Can Serrat, Millay Colony for the Arts, the Norman Mailer Center and Imagining America. Their work has appeared in ‘The Best American Experimental Writing,’ ‘The &NOW Awards 3: The Best Innovative Writing,’ and ‘Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics.’ A senior editor of ‘The Conversant,’ they have also served on the Woodland Pattern board, Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission and as editor-in-chief of cream city review. They are currently an Assistant Professor in Poetry at Sam Houston State University and Poetry Editor of the Texas Review. http://www.chinginchen.com ‘