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2017 Wrolstad Contemporary Poetry Series Selection

In Unearthings, a deep privacy radiates from family dinners and theaters to the larger rings of gender, race, and history. Chen’s stories of isolation, exile, and emigration are an American experience difficult to ignore. Exploring her identity as an Asian American woman, Chen deftly negotiates the body and its archives, summoning and exorcising the ghosts within. Unearthings is a parade of sorts—through her work, Chen breaks silences that are expected and enforced.

"From the beautiful and horrible bindings and boundaries of family and history (both public and private), Wendy Chen has fashioned an unputdownable marvel of a collection. Unearthings is clear as spring water and fast-moving and baptismal in its ice and fire. Chen will say anything so long as it’s both beautiful and true. Hers is a singular voice—lyrical and smart and wise, and I predict this book will echo in all of us for ages to come. A dazzling debut and this year’s must-read book of poetry." 

—Mary Karr


Unearthings, by Calista McRae (Harvard Review)

Book Review, by Patrick Thornton (Ghost Proposal)

Holding On and Letting Go, by Alice Lu (Atticus Review)

Unearthings by Wendy Chen, by Michael Levan (American Microreviews & Interviews)

Going Higher: Unearthings by Wendy Chen, by James Davis May (The Rumpus)

Review, by Brian Fanelli (4squarereview)


Wendy Chen is the recipient of the Academy of American Poets Most Promising Young Poet Prize, and fellowships from the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts and the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund. Her work has appeared in Crazyhorse, Rattle, American Poets, and A Public Space. She earned her MFA in poetry from Syracuse University and is co-founder and editor for Figure 1.

104 pages | 5.5 x 7.5 in.
ISBN-13: 978-1-935635-80-2 (paperback)
ISBN-13: 978-1-935635-81-9 (hardcover)

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