Dear Memory: Letters on Writing, Silence, and Grief and A Symmetry
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Submitted by the Event Organizer
Join us on Tuesday, October 12th at 6pm PT when Victoria Chang and Ari Banias celebrate the launch of their latest books Dear Memory: Letters on Writing, Silence, and Grief and A Symmetry on Zoom!
Praise for Dear Memory
“After the impressive formal innovations of her 2020 books, OBIT, which won multiple national awards, Chang continues to find new ways to plumb her experiences on the page . . . Depending on what one brings to this book, each reader may find their own moment of goosebumps or tears . . . This book is moving in a way that transcends story and message; it captures a purse sense of another person’s heart.” —Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
“Chang has assembled a collection of letters to family, past teachers, and fellow poets, as well as family memorabilia, creating not just a moving family history but a rumination on the creative and self-shaping act of remembering.” —Literary Hub, “Most Anticipated Books of 2021”
“A moving consideration of ancestry and loss . . . [Chang’s] prose is sharp and strong—memory is the ‘exit wound of joy,’ she writes—and her creativity shines in her incorporation of the collage-like visual elements, which add depth. Fans of Chang’s poetry will be delighted.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
About Dear Memory
“Victoria Chang is consistently a poet who resurrects mediums.” —THE MILLIONS
A collection of literary letters and mementos on the art of remembering across generations.
For poet Victoria Chang, memory “isn’t something that blooms, but something that bleeds internally.” It is willed, summoned, and dragged to the surface. The remembrances in this collection of letters are founded in the fragments of stories her mother shared reluctantly, and the silences of her father, who first would not and then could not share more. They are whittled and sculpted from an archive of family relics: a marriage license, a letter, a visa petition, a photograph. And, just as often, they are built on the questions that can no longer be answered.
Dear Memory is not a transcription but a process of simultaneously shaping and being shaped, knowing that when a writer dips their pen into history, what emerges is poetry. In carefully crafted missives on trauma and loss, on being American and Chinese, Victoria Chang shows how grief can ignite a longing to know yourself.
In letters to family, past teachers, and fellow poets, as the imagination, Dear Memory offers a model for what it looks like to find ourselves in our histories.
About Victoria Chang
Victoria Chang is the author of Dear Memory. Her poetry books include OBIT, Barbie Chang, The Boss, Salvinia Molesta, and Circle. OBIT received the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and the PEN Voeckler Award; it was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Prize and the Griffin Poetry Prize, and was long-listed for the National Book Award. She is also the author of a children’s picture book, Is Mommy?, illustrated by Marla Frazee and named a New York Times Notable Book, and a middle grade novel, Love, Love. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Sustainable Arts Foundation Fellowship, the Poetry Society of America’s Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award, a Pushcart Prize, a Lannan Residency Fellowship, and a Katherine Min MacDowell Colony Fellowship. She lives in Los Angeles and is the program chair of Antioch University’s low-residency MFA program.
Praise for A Symmetry
“’Refuse the difference between sameness and difference.’ Refuse the possibility that saying it all on a song won’t change the baseline of what happened. Ari Banias’ poetry sits in an abandoned chair under the overpass, atop an ‘oil slick on the Aegean’ looking ‘at, not through’ reality’s immeasurables that the poet is called to count, holding it all in mind so we can also hold it. A T-shirt hanging out the window, ‘scratched glass Fanta bottles filled and refilled,’ ‘the ruined tanneries beside the seawall’—when you add everything up x times x, what do you get? Only the precarious balance of the world, and a trust in that voice of A Symmetry earned with each self-deflecting playful flourish. The paper antiquity of NYC coffee cups & ‘A doric column / squatting in a strip mall’ & ‘the discotheque / painted tourist pink with a classical name’ evoke the churn of some perpetual history whose action-reaction is embodied in the motion of lyrical meter and the news reports this book takes apart. The poet calls it: ‘A yellow butterfly that has no interest in me. / I have no interest in kings.’ Such cosmic foreshortening disembarrasses the poem from imperial valence until all that’s left of the book is ‘just the tree.’ When Ari Banias says ‘don’t be sorry for the future sand / this stone wall will become’ one can almost let it go. Almost.” —Ana Božičević, author of JOMO
“The surge, the swell, and the casual mutability of the borders and breaks that ensconce our world are laid bare in A Symmetry, Ari Banias’s incandescent new collection of poems. Early on, these pieces acknowledge the transmutable, shifting world—acknowledge the indecency of anything that purports to be static and staid. Even the I is the I only as long as it resists all other possible orientations. Banias ingests the discrete, itinerant minutes, which makes his work come alive at the edges, the thresholds, and the charged moment where distance can finally collapse. The continuous jostling is generous, though. In it we remember the permutations that have existed, do exist, and that will exist in the future. Near the end of A Symmetry, Banias ropes “a brief fish / netted / partly recovered / the sweat of a horse / the wet of its eye.” These objects are momentarily linked and next time we see them, their potential will likely be revealed in an entirely new arrangement. This is one way to see—what taut instructions Banias has given us.”—Asiya Wadud, author of No Knowledge Is Complete Until It Passes Through My Body
About A Symmetry
Unsettling the myth of an ordered reality through uncanny repetitions and elliptical inquiry, A Symmetry considers the inscriptions of nationhood, language, and ancestral memory. A window washer wields an impossibly long mop in the mirrored pane of a Greek government building; strangers mesmerize us while they fold sheets into perfect corners. “Artists who design border wall prototypes are artists / who say they ‘leave politics out of it.’”
In meditative wanderings and compressed, enigmatic lyrics, Ari Banias probes the sometimes-touching, often-violent mundane to draw out the intimate, social proportions of our material world.
About Ari Banias
Ari Banias is the author of A Symmetry (W. W. Norton, 2021) and Anybody (W.W. Norton, 2016), a finalist for the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the PEN Center USA Literary Award. His work has been supported by Headlands Center for the Arts, MacDowell, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, and Stanford University’s Wallace Stegner program. He lives and teaches in the Bay Area.
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