Chen Chen

From the author: These two poems are from an ongoing series where all the titles are everyday phrases, the sort you’d learn early on when studying a new language. In the case of “I love you” and “I hate you,” these are likely phrases you’d already know if you’re interested in spending the time it requires to learn a language (though maybe you wouldn’t already know “I hate you,” which I find sort of funny—you start off only loving!). Of course, the challenge in poetry is to enliven these familiar terms, to create for them fresh contexts, weird homes. I’m trying to remind myself—and anyone reading, I hope—that no utterance, no piece of language, however mundane-seeming, should be taken for granted.

Chen Chen is the author of two books of poetry, Your Emergency Contact Has Experienced an Emergency (BOA Editions, 2022) and When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities (BOA Editions, 2017), which was longlisted for the National Book Award and won the Thom Gunn Award, among other honors. A 2022 United States Artists Fellow, his work appears in many publications, including three editions of The Best American Poetry

Photo credit: Paula Champagne