Every Grief I Meet
“Grief here slides at times into dark humor, revealing the expansiveness of the prose poem form . . . Victoria Chang has created something powerful and unconventional. These poems are zinger curveballs, and often come from the graveyard’s left field.” - Los Angeles Review of Books
Award-winning poet Victoria Chang, whose recent books Dear Memory: Letters on Writing, Silence, and Grief and OBIT address memory and her mother’s passing, ruminates on grief and the work of Emily Dickinson in this annual celebration with the Emily Dickinson Museum.
Victoria Chang will read from Dickinson’s poetry as well as her own. This reading will be followed by a conversation where audience members can put forth their own questions. This conversation will be moderated by poet Brionne Janae, who co-hosts, with Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Jericho Brown, the podcast The Slave is Gone. The podcast talks back to the popular Apple+ television show Dickinson.
Victoria Chang will also offer a Special Online Writing Workshop titled, Generative Poetry Workshop: Let’s Play!, on December 1 from 7:30pm-9:30pm EST. Come to this workshop with a big imagination, an open mind, a laptop and/or a notebook, and be prepared to have fun as we experiment in new ways. This will be a generative writing workshop where we will read poems together and then write poems together. We will go from one set of poems and writing exercises to the next with some time at the end to share what we’ve written.
The cost for the workshop is $75, with a discount for Folger Poetry subscribers. Spaces are available for Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) participants and for those who would be aided by a sliding scale. Please contact Teri Cross Davis at email@example.com.
My Mother’s Teeth—died twice, once in 1965, all pulled out from gum disease. Once again on August 3, 2015. The fake teeth sit in a box in the garage. When she died, I touched them, smelled them, thought I heard a whimper. I shoved the teeth into my mouth. But having two sets of teeth only made me hungrier. When my mother died, I saw myself in the mirror, her words in a ring around my mouth, like powder from a donut. Her last words were in English. She asked for a Sprite. I wonder whether her last thought was in Chinese. I wonder what her last thought was. I used to think that a dead person’s words die with them. Now I know that they scatter, looking for meaning to attach to like a scent. My mother used to collect orange blossoms in a small shallow bowl. I pass the tree each spring. I always knew that grief was something I could smell. But I didn’t know that it’s not actually a noun but a verb. That it moves.
Victoria Chang, "OBIT" from Poetry. Copyright © 2019. Reprinted by permission from the author.
This reading is co-sponsored with The Emily Dickinson Museum.
The Emily Dickinson Museum comprises two historic houses in the center of Amherst, Massachusetts associated with the poet Emily Dickinson and members of her family during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Homestead was the birthplace and home of the poet Emily Dickinson. The Evergreens, next door, was home to her brother Austin, his wife Susan, and their three children. Learn more about the Museum.
The O.B. Hardison Poetry Series is pleased to partner with East City Bookshop, an independently run, women owned bookstore on Capitol Hill. Pickup is available at the shop, or they ship (almost) anywhere! Check their website, eastcitybookshop.com.