Retrato do autor

Victoria Chang (1) (1970–)

Autor(a) de Obit

Para outros autores com o nome Victoria Chang, ver a página de desambiguação.

13+ Works 508 Membros 24 Críticas

Obras por Victoria Chang

Obit (2020) 155 exemplares
Is Mommy? (2015) 63 exemplares
The Trees Witness Everything (2022) 59 exemplares
Barbie Chang (2017) 41 exemplares
Love, Love (2020) 24 exemplares
Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation (2004) — Editor — 20 exemplares
Another Lost Year 1 exemplar

Associated Works

The Best American Poetry 2005 (2005) — Contribuidor — 177 exemplares
The Best American Poetry 2019 (2019) — Contribuidor — 57 exemplares
The Best American Poetry 2021 (2021) — Contribuidor — 48 exemplares
The Best American Poetry 2020 (2020) — Contribuidor — 42 exemplares
Pathetic Literature (2022) — Contribuidor — 25 exemplares
The Best American Poetry 2023 (The Best American Poetry series) (2023) — Contribuidor — 20 exemplares
Dear America: Letters of Hope, Habitat, Defiance, and Democracy (2020) — Contribuidor — 3 exemplares


Conhecimento Comum

Data de nascimento
Local de nascimento
Detroit, Michigan, USA
Locais de residência
Orange County, California, USA



With My Back to the World, Victoria Chang
In her latest poetry book, With My Back to the World, Victoria Chang traces her reaction to abstract paintings, where she finds a communion in their recognition of the gaps between feeling and artistic expression, between emotion and language. This is not new territory for Chang – most of her poetry collections explore the adequacy or inadequacy of forms of any kind to express emotion fully and honestly. In OBIT, she used the physical columnar form of newspaper obituaries to contain, and to explode beyond, the emotions of grief and the experience of loss.

Here, she takes on a harder challenge, and is wildly inventive and exciting in her approach. Following Agnes Martin’s abstract art, she traces her own experience as a woman and an artist, and her experience of her father’s illness and death. The challenge is made harder because Agnes Martin’s artwork is unknown to most people who do not follow art closely and do not have access to galleries and museums. Martin’s work is abstract, based on repetition of lines or grids or dots, and the real impact of her art occurs when it is witnessed in person – the subtle brush work, the softly blurred lines in an apparently regular shape. The artwork’s subtleties, and scale, do not carry over well to printed reproductions. Unless you have seen Martin’s work in person at a gallery or museum, you really won’t “get” it. Chang’s attempt to give the reader some sense of the art, as she reacts with it or to it, includes naming poems with the title and year of a Martin piece, and having an imaginary dialogue with Martin as they look at the artwork together. That’s inventive, and pulls the reader in, but it also leaves the art and its impact, and the personality of Martin herself, unknown by the person reading the poetry. Chang complicates this even further by never telling the reader who the artist is – she mentions “Agnes” but there is nothing in the titles or intro to inform you the artist is Agnes Martin; you’ll need to deduce that from reviews and blurbs, and wonder how anyone figured it out. This adds a lot of work for the reader, and increases the ante for the poetry – will it be worth it?

I saw the blurbs and reviews mentioning Agnes Martin, and found an online documentary about her life and work. That added a good layer of depth to how I read Chang’s poems. Without that, I would not have sustained an interest in the poetry itself. Don’t get me wrong – it’s very good poetry, and there are images and lines that sparkle with insight and ask big questions. But tethering the whole thing to and being in dialogue with art and an artist that I can’t figure out is a really big ask of the reader, and would have left me exhausted and confused.

The poems themselves, per usual with Victoria Chang, are startling and insightful, veering rapidly from a huge personal grief into an observation about art in general, or Agnes Martin’s work in particular, and back again. That technique threads a needle, ever so skillfully, between deeply internal and hidden feelings and the artist’s need to express them, and really does stitch art and life together in a wonderful way. All the while, Chang sees how inadequate any art or language can be, and how an artist (and a woman) is always on the knife edge of wanting to be seen but not watched, not misunderstood. In The Islands, 1961, she asks: “Agnes left some lines uncovered on the borders, showing us how happiness is made. How even happiness is made by writing something down, then leaving it exposed for all to see. Is it possible to be seen, but not looked at?”

These philosophical battles about art, language, what is true or what is observed, what is exposed or not, the extra edge of being a woman, being a daughter – all make the poetry challenging, worthwhile, very intelligent, wonderfully creative, always fluid. This is a worthwhile poetry book—difficult, but definitely worthwhile.

Martin’s art is decidedly non-representational. She meant it to be experienced, responded to. She carefully avoided any representation, and went so far as to refuse to have titles of the artwork printed in a gallery catalogue – experience it, don’t read it, don’t try to figure out what it is, she might have said. If you haven’t seen Martin’s art but perhaps have seen a piece of Mark Rothko’s art, you’ll get it. I admire the courage and inventiveness of Victoria Chang in writing poetry – language! representation! nouns and verbs! – that uses such art as a launching pad. And in using the poetry and the art to navigate grief, feelings of inadequacy (what daughter doesn’t feel that?), sadness about her father’s death. The personal ache of the father’s death provides many of the moments the poetry reaches out to the reader.

The poetry collection plays with the ideas of art abstraction, showing the text of a poem overlaid with squiggles and made into an unreadable work of abstraction, and then providing the text of the poem. This constant back and forth keeps the reader immersed in the idea of abstract art, and the need to simply look at something and experience it before it can be read and understood. A few of the attempts to mirror a piece of art do not work so well – an example is Little Sister, where the art work is constructed of rows of dots formed by nails, and the poem reflecting that artwork is words broken up by regular dots, sort of like faux line-breaks. Lacking the texture, the physicalness, the starting contrast between material and title that the artwork holds, a poem broken up by dots just doesn’t bring the same effect. Other poems where, for example, Martin’s gridwork paintings are transformed into a poem with grids of phrases work much better (With My Back to the World, 1997).

The poems are at their best when Chang is simply doing what she does best – questioning, shaking grief loose by making it tangible in unexpected ways. In Untitled #10, 2002, she asks, “What happens if these aren’t pastoral or war poems? When I can feel the light I carry on my back but can’t see it or use it? // When sadness and language cast the same shadow. These six strips are the shadows of our blood, proving that every woman’s life can // be broken into and displayed.” She finishes that poem softly referring to both her parents’ deaths, then going back to the question of art: “Maybe our bodies never had a vanishing point, // so there will always be hunger. Even a woman’s life is trying to become more than the woman it represents.” Boom.

Thanks to #netgalley, and #fsg (#Farrar, Straus and Giroux) for the ARC.
… (mais)
bjellis | Jan 27, 2024 |
I didn't dislike this, just not the right time for me to sit down with it and get through it all.
bmanglass | 5 outras críticas | Aug 31, 2023 |
This book was recommended to me by Book Riot's Tailored Book Recommendation service. It was an excellent if uncomfortable read. A collection of obituaries to all the big and little losses after the author's mother dies, and her father experiences a series of strokes. Such a complicated rendering of grief.
greeniezona | 5 outras críticas | May 23, 2023 |
The recovery of past voices in the wide spatial area in Victoria Chang's Obit

A Cognitive Approach

Dr. Mohammed Sameer Abd Elsalam

In her poetic discourse, in Obit, Victoria Chang weaves an explanatory-rhetorical link between the themes of death, delayed death, and aesthetic resurrection in the context of communication between the self and the deep levels of the existence of others or the living dead in the experimental cosmic spatial void in the poem. Therefore, according to Victoria Chung, the spatial void is rich in specters, images, memories, and vivid daydreams that continually follow delayed death.

Consequently, Victoria Chung puts us within experimental contextual indicators related to time, place, and the image of the other. The temporal contextual indicator combines the power of the past moment and its possible transformation in the future towards another hypothetical life in the consciousness and subconsciousness of the self and its internal visual-spatial perception methods. As for the spatial contextual indicators, they were manifested in the poetic mixing between the places of endings and the places of other aesthetic presence that mix with the other or replace them. As for the indicator of the other, it appeared in his other experimental presence in the inner world of the self, and in the return of the mother’s impact within her and in her language mixed with the mother’s words that resist the centrality of death.

Moreover, We can deduce the mental state of the self through the spatial perceptual mixing between the images of the father and the mother, the old self-states, the transformations of concepts, cities, things, and the structure of presence in which death actually occurred, but that death came within a wide spatial void that contains the resurrection of living memory signs and includes a substitution state for the decentralized negative silence in the scene The vast cosmos.

Also, we can deduce some internal mental representations in Victoria Chang's discourse related to the images of father and mother and objects in their new metaphorical presence; From a perceptual-semantic perspective, we note that Victoria Chang's choice of the mother's tooth sign, which she temporarily placed inside her mouth, indicates the living occultation recovered from memory. This invisibility that lies behind the lips and the mouth indicates the depth of the presence of the image of the mother and the other father within the self and indicates the semantic pictorial fanfare between the delayed revealing of the teeth in the event of death, and the return of the teeth behind the mouth in a new spiritual image at the same time. We also notice that the death of the metaphorical ocean has been associated with the life of other waters in the body and soul of the self. Hence, the spatial domains of the images of the self, the other, and the objects are multiplied and indicate the richness of the vertical spiritual world in the perceptual landscape.

In addition, I believe that the main inferential argument in Victoria Chang's speech is based on the relative validity of the hypothesis of the possibility of a deep connection between the self and the absent other through the power of signs of memory, dreaming, and daydreaming, and then the result is the multiplicity of states of existence, and the transcendence of the centrality of the void and the trend towards mixing the invisible space with visual and virtual creative data.

Also, I believe that Victoria Chang's poetic discourse includes a directive speech act for us related to paying attention to the possibility of renewing signs of memory within the complex process that relates to the repetition of the daily cycles of existence and the internal cycles of existence.

Finally, I see that Victoria Chang has presented a unique poetic work in the history of literature, which contributes to discovering the possible life of the signs and sounds of the past.

Dr. Mohammed Sameer Abd Elsalam
Literary Critic and Art Critic
… (mais)
Mohammed_Sameer | 5 outras críticas | Feb 4, 2023 |


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Monica Youn Contributor
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Antonio Jocson Contributor
Jennifer Chang Contributor
Monica Ferrell Contributor
C. Dale Young Contributor
Jon Pineda Contributor
Adrienne Su Contributor
Lee Ann Roripaugh Contributor
Tina Chang Contributor
Rick Barot Contributor
Srikanth Reddy Contributor
Marilyn Chin Foreword
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Paisley Rekdal Contributor
Suji Kwock Kim Contributor
Brenda Shaughnessy Contributor
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