Ching-In Chen

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.


All Books

The Heart’s Traffic

Ching-In Chen

Publication Date: February 15, 2009

$21 Tradepaper

ISBN: 978-0980040722

Description:

Published in 2009 from Arktoi Books/Red Hen Press, The Heart’s Traffic is Ching-In’s debut collection of poems.

This novel-in-poems chronicles the life of Xiaomei, an immigrant girl haunted by the death of her best friend. Told through a kaleidoscopic braid of stories, letters, and riddles, this stunning debut collection follows Xiaomei’s life as she grows into her sexuality and searches for a way to deal with her complicated histories.

At times, meditation, celebration, investigation, and elegy, this is a book about personal transformation within the context of a family forced to make do—a Makeshift Family—and how one might create new language to name the New World.

ADVANCE PRAISE

“Ching-In Chen composes a book-length sequence that inventively incorporates such Western and Eastern forms as the sestina, villanelle, epistle, haibun, pantoum, and zuihitsu. ‘A girlbirth in the flanks of the zodiac, / a gift of fossilizing heat,’ she writes in this mythic, cross-cultural collection.”—Arthur Sze

“At the overwhelming crossroads, where the body, sexuality, and culture collide, you will find The Heart’s Traffic fibrillating with emotion and pumping forth the strained language that shudders off the tongue, ‘end of the intimate and divine source.’ No wonder, then, that these poems warrant such innovation of shape, direction and structure, such defiance of pleasantries and political correctness—they thrive ‘objecting to the world around them.’ Ching-In Chen has come out to unsettle the poetry stage with a debut collection that shimmers with fierceness and ‘sunslickstarfight.'” —Rigoberto González

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