When I Grow Up I Want To Be A List of Further Possibilities

Author: Chen Chen
Foreword: Jericho Brown
Genre: Poetry
Format: Paperback
Publisher: BOA Editions Ltd.
Release Date: April 11, 2017
Pages: 96

Author Website|Book Depository|Goodreads

Goodreads Synopsis: 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 collection fully embraces the loss, grief, and abundant joy that come with charting one’s own path in identity, life, and love.


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This was my first poetry book of the year, which is a shame because I love poetry. Even though this wasn’t a quick favorite, it did have many poems that resonated with me and left me wanting to pick up more poetry reads. Especially with lines that felt like they were coming straight from my mouth, it was easy to discover an even deeper love for all things poetry.

“The day the window grew till it no longer fit the house was the night I decided to leave.”

“The reader’s face is a child’s rapt face. The book is her latest soul, disguised as a more or less acceptable concrete object. The child is happy. The afternoon, a novel.”

“To be crinkled & crushed into tiny brown-orange pieces. & then collected, painstakingly, no, painfully, piece by piece, & assembled like a puzzle or collage or Egyptian god, but always incomplete, always a few bits & limbs missing.”

“Time dripped from the faucet like a magician’s botched trick. I did not want to applaud it. I stood to one side & thought, What it’s time for is a garden.”

“Now, I am in love–with you!–though sometimes terribly sad for no good reason, & not so much angry as guilty when you say to me, Don’t cry, don’t be sad, as if my sadness could sink this room, this apartment, this whole city not Paris.”

They were truthful and filled with emotion, many with unanswered questions but with a hopeful understanding of everything that fills our daily lives. There were those that didn’t reach me as I had felt they would, but then when I began feeling that way others came along that I couldn’t read enough of. It did leave me with more of an appreciation for the words written in poetry books and with a fervor to read many more soon.

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