Foreword by Jericho Brown
In this ferocious and tender debut, Chen Chen investigates inherited forms of love and family – the strained relationship between a mother and son, the cost of necessary goodbyes – all from Asian American, immigrant and queer perspectives. Holding all accountable, this refreshingly candid and entertainingly provocative collection fully embraces the loss, grief, and abundant joy that come with charting one’s own path in identity, life and love.
‘Chen Chen refuses to be boxed in or nailed down. He is a poet of Whitman’s multitudes and of Langston Hughes’ blues, of Dickinson’s "so cold no fire can warm me" and of Michael Palmer’s comic interrogation. What unifies the brilliance of When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities is a voice desperate to believe that within every one of life’s sadnesses there is also hope, meaning, and – if we are willing to laugh at ourselves – humor. This is a book I wish existed when I first began reading poetry. Chen is a poet I’ll be reading for the rest of my life.’ – Jericho Brown
‘Chen Chen is already one of my favorite poets ever. Funny, absurd, bitter, surreal, always surprising, and deeply in love with this flawed world. I’m in love with this book.’ – Sherman Alexie
‘The radioactive spider that bit Chen Chen (isn’t that how first books get made?) gave him powers both demonic and divine. The bite transmitted vision, worry, want, memory of China, America’s grief, and People magazine, as well as a radical queer critique of the normative. What a gift that bite was – linguistic, erotic, politic and impolitic, idiosyncratic and emphatic. What a blessing and burden to write out of the manifold possibilities of that contact.’ – Bruce Smith