Black Lawrence Press

Past Lives, Future Bodies

From “Televangelism”

In Chinese, ghost rhymes
            with expensive & mother

misspends her mouth
            on prayer with no payback, no god

bending our sky like a back.
            What a daughter costs

a mother must pay
            out of body: she reaches

into her blood
            like a wallet, a wound

we eat out of. She says
            one man’s daughter

is another god’s revenge: a river
            lassoes our local church & my body

expires mid-prayer.
            I wear my blood

as bracelets & go sleeveless
            on Sundays. When it rains, I cinch

the flood around my waist
            like a miniskirt. Say we’ll be better

mothers than our mothers. Say our fathers fit
            in our fists.


  • Kristin Chang wields the line break like a sword cutting through dimensions of reality and language. Each break offers another surprise gut-punch or gutting grace on the other side as these fiercely sharp poems turn and turn, Chang never faltering to rise to the occasion of these blood-filled verses. Chang, quite simply, can write her ass off. I read these poems and I feel like I’m discovering poetry all over again. Chang makes a spell rise from every wound, and I’m caught all the way up in this magic. Kristin Chang is one of the best emerging writers out there, and this chapbook is one step into a career we will all be transformed by. PAST LIVES, FUTURE BODIES couldn’t be a better way to be introduced to your new favorite poet. It’s Kristin’s world, thank God we’re reading in it.

    —Danez Smith, author of DON'T CALL US DEAD
  • Kristin Chang’s PAST LIVES, FUTURE BODIES is full of mouths swallowing food, language, home, memory, and bodily desires to finally arrive at explosive demonstrations of what happens when the unspeakable is uttered and shouted. Each poem shows the process of turning a painful reflection on history, sexuality, race, family, and nation into a prismatic object of beauty. We are lucky to witness Chang’s use of silence as a productive narrative frame.

    —Emily Jungmin Yoon, author of A CRUELTY SPECIAL TO OUR SPECIES
  • In PAST LIVES, FUTURE BODIES, Kristin Chang’s knotty examination into the complexities of intergenerational relationships, we come to understand the fraught nature of both the known and the unknown. These meditations on family, pain, and the ways we communicate untangle the threads of what it means to love those who have hurt us. Chang writes, “Every language has different / words for the same want,” and the poems in this collection stunningly reveal those words and leave us wanting for more.

    —Eloisa Amezcua, author of FROM THE INSIDE QUIETLY

Kristin Chang

Kristin Chang’s work has been published in Teen Vogue, The Rumpus, The Margins (Asian American Writers Workshop), the Shade Journal, and elsewhere. Her work has been nominated for Best New Poets and Best of the Net, and she has been anthologized in Bettering American Poetry Vol. 3 and Ink Knows No Borders (Seven Stories Press). She is a 2018 Gregory Djanikian Scholar (selected by The Adroit Journal), the recipient of a 2019 Pushcart Prize, and a Resist/Recycle/Regenerate fellow with the Wing On Wo Project in Manhattan Chinatown. Past Lives, Future Bodies is her first chapbook.

Chang © Ja Bulsombut Author page

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