Patricia Spears Jones on Nancy Chen Long
Nancy Chen Long is a poet whose work is new to me and I am so pleased to have selected her work for the Robert H. Winner Memorial Award. Her poems explore the scientific, psychological, and pop culture versions of the brain as the site and source for experience and memory. "Little people crowd/in the brain" she notes in the poem "Interstice." Her poems ask how experiences become memory, why does official history work so hard to erase human experience, as in "Reverberation" in which both the Holocaust and the 1921 Tulsa Race Riots are discussed. The final poem in her selection showcases her wit and wordplay with a description of a mole to Mole in The Wind in the Willows, then deepens into an exploration of migration, grief, and homesickness as the poet recalls her dead mother's favorite perfume and a sudden remembrance of other smells, sounds that leave "only a feeling,/ slippery, familiar and strange at the same time." This is a poet fully in charge of her art and craft. It was a delight to read and reread these lively and giving poems.
Nancy Chen Long