Dear Memory: Letters on Writing, Silence, and Grief

Product Details
$25.00  $23.25
Milkweed Editions
Publish Date
6.9 X 9.4 X 0.7 inches | 1.35 pounds

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About the Author
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 Dear Memory

"Victoria Chang's Dear Memory is a tender exploration of grief, an excavation into stories untold, memories unshared, the treasures that await our discoveries if we trace through the lives that held ours. It is a vulnerable and evocative experience of what it means to miss, to yearn, to return to the pieces of our most beloved. b>-Kao Kalia Yang

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

Those who were fans of Chang's previous book, Obit, will find some similar (yet still refreshing) innovations of style and feeling in Dear Memory. In this genre-bending and deeply personal work, Chang manipulates the loose form of letter-writing to build an archive of emotion out of an archive of familial history. This collection takes seriously the literary value of non-traditional literary elements such as collage-making, snippets of memorabilia, drawings in journals, and bureaucratic debris. This work emphasizes that alongside her masterful and vulnerable writing, these are, in fact, the bits and pieces which have most tangibly shaped our history and experience. Her boundary-pushing exploration of herself is moving and intimate on levels beyond expectation. Dear Memory marks an important step in the evolution of Chang's work, and I look forward to seeing its impact unfold in the literary sphere. --Mrittika Ghosh, Seminary Co-op Bookstore

Victoria Chang's Dear Memory grapples with the nature of memory and how one bears the personal traumas of those who came before. Using a collection of ephemera left by her mother as a point of departure, the accomplished poet frames letters to intimates as a way to navigate her own grief and explore memories of what shaped her sense of self while growing up. While the papers left behind by Chang's mother are a record of past events, Chang's letters demonstrate how their effects continue to resonate--across time, oceans, and through generations. Imaginatively creating a conversation between past and present, Chang fills in gaps and asks what it means to truly know oneself through one's own history. --Isa S. Politics & Prose

Praise for Victoria Chang

"Chang is consistently a poet who resurrects mediums, her work living within surprising spaces and forms, and both exposing and surpassing the possibilities for those structures. . . . Chang has the rare poetic talent to follow the edges of dark comedy to find sentiment rather than irony."--The Millions

"Chang's star is rising, and lucky for us, she writes with compassion, grace, and a true ethical sensibility."--Los Angeles Review of Books

"Many poets display a single strength. Some write beautiful nature poems, others write well about relationships, still others have a gift for addressing issues like politics or economics. Chang can do it all."--Kansas City Star

Praise for OBIT

Finalist for the 2021 PEN / Voelcker Award for Poetry Collection
Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry
Longlisted for the 2020 National Book Award in Poetry

"Chang's new collection explores her father's illness and her mother's death, treating mortality as a constantly shifting enigma. A serene acceptance of grief emerges from these poems."--New York Times, "100 Notable Books of 2020"

"Chang's sharp crystallizations of the pain and disorientation of death, and the way it reverberates through life, bring us to the raw heart of grief without the overblown language of classical elegy. These are poems that reproduce the logic and feeling of loss--a gift for anyone who has struggled to find words to express grief."--NPR

"In [OBIT], mortality is not a before and after state, but rather a constantly shifting enigma."--New York Times Book Review

"Exceptional . . . Chang's poems expand and contract to create surprising geometries of language, vividly capturing the grief they explore."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Chang has created a unique poetic construct. . . . The feeling of hope is a theme throughout this solid collection, in variations Chang evokes with grace: 'Hope / is the wildest bird, the one that flies / so fast it will either disappear or burst / into flames.' Chang's poetry fine tunes that conflagration with acuity."--Booklist

"[OBIT] marshals all the resources of poetry against the relentless emotional cascade that's associated with death--and, very much to its credit, and as a testament to its success, the book has arrived at a kind of momentary stalemate against that cascade."--Rick Barot

"A long elegy for the poet's mother, OBIT is the kind of poetry collection that creates a new genre. A reinvention of form? A symphony? A manifesto? All of the above and then some. It is heartbreaking and enthralling. It sings and instructs. It is a world all its own; one that changes ours."--Ilya Kaminsky

"Here we have unmitigated heartbreak--but heartbreak mercifully free of the usual 'death etiquette' platitudes of 'after-lives' or 'better offs.' Thus, 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

"These obits are fearless. They are also specific and intimate. . . . The emotional power of Chang's OBIT comes from the grace and honesty with which she turns this familiar form inside out to show us the private side of family, the knotting together of generations, the bewilderment of grief."--Ploughshares

Praise for Barbie Chang

"But [Chang's readers] won't be the only ones [who like Chang's new work]--and not even they will expect Chang's grander scope, her greater nuance, and her more generous attention to its characters' adult lives. . . . Chang's punctuation-free lines, like WS Merwin's, invite overlapping readings and multiple syntax. Her pathos slows down for jokes, apercus, and hyper-contemporary puns. . . . Such invitations are hard to resist, and they ring."--Stephanie Burt, Academy of American Poets

"Chang entrances with wordplay, but the dance never feels hollow: this is performance with poetic soul. . . . Don't miss the exquisitely crafted litany of linked poems in the middle of the book, evidence how quickly and precisely Chang can turn from comic to comforting to transcendent."--The Millions

"Chang is emerging as an exciting voice in contemporary poetry, and [Barbie Chang] is undoubtedly her most accomplished volume to date."--Publishers Weekly