Results of the Yale Younger Poets Prize in the year 2009.
These poems of maturation chronicle the poet’s relationship with his immigrant family and his unknowing attempt to recapture the unity of youth through comically doomed love affairs that evaporate before they start. Hungrily eclectic, the wry and emotionally piercing poems in this collection steal the forms of the shooting script, blues song, novel, memoir, essay, logical disputation, aphorism—even classical Chinese poetry in translation. But as Yale Younger Poets judge Louise Glück notes in her foreword, “The miracle of this book is the degree to which Ken Chen manages to be both exhilaratingly modern (anti-catharsis, anti-epiphany) while at the same time never losing his attachment to voice, and the implicit claims of voice: these are poems of intense feeling…. Like only the best poets, Ken Chen makes with his voice a new category.”