Biography of Tina Chang
Tina Chang is an American poet, teacher, and editor. In 2010, she was named Poet Laureate of Brooklyn.
Chang was born in 1969 in Oklahoma, to Chinese immigrants, who had met in Montreal, where her mother was working as a nurse and her father was earning his doctorate in physics. The family moved to New York when she was a year old. She was also raised in New York City. During her young age, Chang and her brother were sent to live in Taiwan with relatives for two years. “I started questioning even at a very young age, well, what is language?” she said. “What is the role of words?”
She later attended Binghamton University. She received her master of fine art's degree in poetry from Columbia University.
Tina Chang Poems
The Future Is An Animal
In every kind of dream I am a black wolf careening through a web. I am the spider who eats the wolf and inhabits the wolf's body. In another dream I marry the wolf and then
The Idea Of Revelation
It wasn't holy so let us not praise gods. Let us not look to them for bread, nor the cup that changed water to wine.
I am haunted by how much our mothers do not know. How a republic falls because of its backhanded deals, stairwell secrets. My mother does not know I am lying
When everything was accounted for you rummaged through my bag to find something offensive: a revolver, a notebook of misinterpreted text. I'm God's professor. His eyes two open ovens. He has a physical body and it hiccups and blesses. Tell me a story before the mudslide, tell it fast before the house falls, before it withers in the frost, before it dozes off next to the television. I couldn't tell if it was that screen or the sky spitting dust and light.
I was locked into a single seed, my future fathoming. I was matter underwater and a sheer hoping, when I latched to earth, a first withered bloom. A sonic wonder, I sang about the future. I was master of the oxen pulling me toward dawn, an existence first in death, a state of stillness before beginning, a middle earth of rain. I wore many masks until the right one fit. Then the storm passed and I was wakened by water. Morality I had stolen through the back door, eyed two loaves of bread. In the life before this one, I had seen the window, a greater reflection, yeast in the tin rising fast. My wanting grew. How does desire trump that? Perhaps desire is what we know best when the heart is listless but listening. I memorized my history which was nothing short of gleaming disasters repeated, just for me. History I fell into a patch of green which was earth's matter and fell some more. I am a boy and found myself between war and my own luck, startled myself in goodness and in haste, made a fire and got to cooking. Man: the most tender and incessant beast. A flawed danger but no less beautiful. A prairie where I walk for the first time, where I am the theory of origin: my brain barks in the heat, my legs buckle in the initial step, then a slow certainty, an engine of progress. My ankles turn clockwise in the soil, loosening root and worm, shaking free from the tangle and what held me there. Mambo Sun I was never burned by anything that could touch me and I sat in the imagined throne with spoonsful of red sugar tasting the years ahead of me, wondering of the origin of my mother. I think she is flame and quick step, glee and ignition. I saw her hands once in a flash flood pulling me awake, several claps and then I came alive rising through the underbrush and cadence rumble, then I breathed and found god's bone, cracked in pieces in my throat and my own voice fused to answer back.
I opened the silver pronged evening and translated the great song of the Industrial Age. Each night I hoped it would tell a different ending. Each time it sang a song, sadder than I would have imagined. I heard it, not only when I put all my perspectives away on shelves, until the shelves caved in. What was left: a room with windows that looked out and I interpreted the vast room that spoke of longing, but mostly air. I consoled myself, heavy lidded, I revealed myself to no one. I ached by the staircase. I opened the cupboards and the refrigerator to let the cold in. I walked with my bare feet dragging my lone body, cold as milk as I kissed the bottomless depth, an ear tuned toward the series of bells, wind tied to a tree. And then the wind stopped. If I break the many windows will the sea roil and foam? I am consumed with houses and what may propagate inside them. What longing lives there, breeds redemption? An open door to the wide plain is not a metaphor. I swing it open each day. I leave the old house.
On an island, an open road where an animal has been crushed by something larger than itself. It is mangled by four o'clock light, soul sour-sweet, intestines flattened and raked by the sun, eyes still watchful, savage. This landscape of Taiwan looks like a body black and blue. On its coastline mussels have cracked their faces on rocks, clouds are collapsing onto tiny houses. And just now a monsoon has begun. It reminds me of a story my father told me: He once made the earth not in seven days but in one. His steely joints wielded lava and water and mercy in great ionic perfection. He began the world, hammering the length of trees, trees like a war of families, trees which fumbled for grand gesture. The world began in an explosion of fever and rain. He said, Tina, your body came out floating. I was born in the middle of monsoon season, palm trees tearing the tin roofs. Now as I wander to the center of the island no one will speak to me. My dialect left somewhere in his pocket, in a nursery book, a language of childsplay. Everything unfurls in pictures: soil is washed from the soles of feet, a woman runs toward her weeping son, chicken bones float in a pot full of dirty water. I return to the animal on the road. When I stoop to look at it it smells of trash, rotting vegetation, the pitiful tongue. Its claws are curled tight to its heart; eyes open eyes open. When the world began in the small factory of my father's imagination he never spoke of this gnarled concoction of bone and blood that is nothing like wonder but just the opposite, something simply ravaged. He too would die soon after the making of the world. I would go on waking, sexing, mimicking enemies. I would go on coaxed by gravity and hard science.
Infinite and Plausible
It is the smallest idea born in the interior will, that has no fury nor ignorance, no intruder but stranger, no scaffold of a plea,
Evolution of Danger
I'm the one in the back of the bar, drinking cachaça, fingering the lip of the glass. Every dream has left me now as I wait for the next song: Drag and drum.
Origin & Ash
Powder rises from a compact, platters full of peppermints, a bowl of sour pudding.
On an island, an open road where an animal has been crushed by something larger than itself.
Empress Dowager Boogies
Last night I found my face below the water in my cupped hands.
My son rubs his skin and names it brown, his expression gleeful as I rub a damp cloth over his face this morning. Last night, there were reports that panthers were charging
Perhaps I hold people to impossible ideals, I tell them, something is wrong with your personality, (you're a drinker, you're too dependent, or I think you have
Perhaps I hold people to impossible ideals,
I tell them, something is wrong with your
personality, (you're a drinker, you're
too dependent, or I think you have
a mother/son fixation). This is usually
followed by passionate lovemaking,
one good long and very well meaning
embrace, and then I'm out the door.