Almanac of Useless Talents


Product Details

$16.95  $15.76
Clash Books
Publish Date
5.9 X 8.0 X 0.4 inches | 0.4 pounds

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About the Author

MICHAEL CHANG (they/them) is the author of several collections of poetry, including BOYFRIEND PERSPECTIVE (Really Serious Literature, 2021) & the forthcoming SYNTHETIC JUNGLE (Northwestern University Press, 2023). Tapped to edit Lambda Literary's Emerge anthology, their poems have been nominated for Best New Poets, Best of the Net, & the Pushcart Prize. They were awarded the Poetry Project's prestigious Brannan Prize in 2021, & serve as a poetry editor at the acclaimed journal Fence.


A "breakneck masterpiece" ... "delicious judginess."

"Irreverent, immediate, and delectably shady."

"Take a multitude of hyperkinetic punchlines, excise all connective tissue, ("Most poems should be no words / Most poems too long & too explainy"), and all the old news images like horseshoe crabs, bone dust, and marrow, then "suck & fuck / shop like Michael Jackson," and caffeinate until its "little bunny heart is pounding," and you'll have something resembling Michael Chang's breakneck masterpiece Almanac of Useless Talents. I love Chang's lexicon of text abbreviations, Chinese characters, smiley faces, and pop culture frippery which seed and aerate the undercurrent of lyric yearning with spontaneous typographic mini-bombs. Romanticism is blown up, as is romance--"you said all of our love, could fit in a tiffany box, you meant this in a good way, i said so can a turd." Beneath the delicious judginess and the literary criticism delivered with the energy of gossip is a foundation of political and literary acuity, rage, yes, and yes, pain, but in a dismal time, this book refuses to be dismal. "Every day I live in fear of being misidentified as another Azn poet but then I realize there's no one like me," Chang writes, and it's true. The ferocious brag is real, and it's a helluva pushback on the forces of disappearance."

"Here comes Michael Chang's superb Almanac of Useless Talents, sampling from our absurd and dangerous zeitgeist, daring you to say "poetry shouldn't talk like that" (or about that), hilariously insulting to various po- and show-biz celebrities, withering about white people's antics, journeying way beyond "sex positive" into a territory where sex is ubiquitous, omnivorous, fun(ny) (sometimes), ridiculous (often)--but still here, as in the old poetry about desire, not getting what one wants in the way one wants is a frequent source of pain. Radically non-dual--praising the most solicitous lover, who turns out to be Satan--and "Always remembering not to give a damn," Chang pulls the rug out from under sublimity, but equally from irony. If I'd had access to this wise book when I was 10, I would have been happier, and queerer, quicker."

"In case your motto is "If you don't have anything nice to say, come sit by me," save a seat for Michael Chang's Almanac of Useless Talents. Irreverent, immediate, and delectably shady, Chang's poems spare no one, whether they're clocking celebrities or exes or poets (who all pretty much deserve it). This book isn't just a whirlwind of spirited invective, although I'd still be fully entertained if it were, given how deftly Chang works in that mode. Look closer and you'll find moments of tenderness and vulnerability too: "Honesty is not a special place / But you would be there with me."

"Michael Chang's poetry collections are praised for their biting wit and humor, for their critique of injustice, for their juxtaposition of highbrow and low, for their velocity, their leaps, their sense of scale, for their sweeping range of style and subject and tone. The praise is well-earned and accurately describes Chang's newest book, Almanac of Useless Talents. With stinging banter and righteous indignation, Chang calls out a system rigged against queerness, against people of color, drawing desire's obsessive nature and its inevitable pain into sharp focus. Chang reminds us that the bawdy, the blunt, the quip are as much a part of poetry as the romantic, the eloquent, the aphoristic. Chang's poems inspire us to critique what we love, not in spite of that love, but because of it."

"Overflowing with sass and razorsharp attitude, Michael Chang's Almanac of Useless Talents sashays on the runway into a whirlwind world that's part bacchanal, literary carousel, interrogation, TMZ, court proceeding, and carnival with a cast of plenty: Azns, "white ppl & their holiday stories," and boys, boys, boys as lovelorn love objects. If only dissatisfaction, jealousy, comeuppance, glee, and ennui can more often be rendered this decadently delicious!"

"Michael Chang writes, "have to warn u tho / i kiss & tell," and Almanac of Useless Talents proves that confession true. In this wonderfully horny book, Chang braids self-deprecation and self-confidence into short, sharp, and playful poems on sex, asianness, romance, pop culture, and queenery. In this book, we see a performance of fierce pride and the demand for the reader to submit to Chang's will. But we also see, in all of these poems, a more subdued, more urgent request: so, can we be friends now?"

"An almanac, yes, but also a camp catalogue, a queer inventory, meteoric in its pace and opulence. It's less of a reading experience and more of a dazzling trajectory. Buckle up."

"Michael Chang's poems are unstoppable, electric and hyper-energetic. Almanac of Useless Talents is delightful and humorous, crafted with Chang's unique way of queering languages, cultures, and literary tradition."