Books Magazine

Your Emergency Contact Has Experienced an Emergency by Chen Chen

By Pamelascott
What happens when everything falls away, when those you call on in times of need are themselves calling out for rescue?

In his highly anticipated second collection, Chen Chen continues his investigation of family, both blood and chosen, examining what one inherits and what one invents, as a queer Asian American living through an era of Trump, mass shootings, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Always at work in the wrecked heart of this new collection is a switchboard operator, picking up and connecting calls. Raucous 2 a.m. prank calls. Whispered-in-a-classroom emergency calls. And sometimes, its pages record the dropping of a call, a failure or refusal to pick up. With irrepressible humour and play, these anarchic poems celebrate life, despite all that would crush aliveness.

Hybrid in form and set in New England, West Texas, and a landlocked province of China, among other places, Your Emergency Contact Has Experienced an emergency refuses neat categorizations and pat answers. Instead, the book offers an insatiable curiosity about how it is we keep finding ways to hold onto one another.


Down the sideways face, through the dilapidatedwaterfall, we entered late afternoon's house& a favourite room: the room of the butterfly skeleton.A FAVOURITE ROOM


(@boaeditions, 20 October 2022, e-book, 112 pages, #ARC from the publisher via @ edelweiss_squad)



I've enjoyed other work by the poet so was looking forward to our Emergency Contact Has Experienced an Emergency. I really love the title. The poems are quite powerful and deal with experiences of queerness as well as searching for love, acceptance and identity and also explore some recent real-world events such as a Covid-19 Pandemic and Trump's stint in power. I enjoyed this collection a lot.

Your Emergency Contact Experienced Chen

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