Ching-In Chen is an Asian-American poet and community organiser, who is the author of The Heart’s Traffic (Arktoi/Red Hen Press, 2009), a novel-in-poems and the co-editor of The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities (South End Press, 2011). Her other accolades include being a Kundiman and Lambda Fellow and a member of the Macondo and Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundations writing communities.
Ching-In is a multi-genre, border-crossing writer who pushes herself outside of her creative comfort zone. Ching-In tells us that she is always interested in not repeating herself, she is always looking for another way around something and this explains the astonishing range of different poetic forms which find expression in her work. Not only that, but her poems present insightful commentary on issues such as immigration, economic bondage and sexuality, amongst many other things.
Ching-In is currently based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where she is a member of the University of Wisconsin PhD programme, but her roots lie somewhat further afield, in China to be exact. Growing up in America, Ching-In often found herself experiencing what it is like to be other: she had an other name, an other face. As an adult, Ching-In is now able to reflect on and better understand these childhood and adolescent experiences and make sophisticated comment in response to them in her poetry. As time passed, she also become more interested in finding out about the culture and history of China, the land her parents had immigrated to America from, and Asia more broadly. This helps to explain what drew Ching-In to her current project which involves compiling a history of coolies through a series of poems. In this podcast, Ching-In reads from The Heart´s Traffic as well as this new collection, which has the working title of Dialektik Skool, and talks to Claire Hart about her fascinating work and the inspiration behind it.
You can find out more about Ching-In Chen and her work by visiting her website.