Nicole Chung Recommends...

“Poetry is what I read when I just can’t with anything anymore, especially my own writing. I read it just about every day, more often when I am sick of or frustrated with my own writing voice. I have a tendency to overwrite, so unsurprisingly I’m in awe of the poet’s relative economy of language, everything they manage to convey in just a few dozen or few hundred words. A good poem always feels inevitable when you read it, as if these exact words had to exist in just this arrangement to help you understand how to live, how to survive, a little better. This past year I’ve spent a lot of time reading Ocean Vuong and Jericho Brown and Tracy K. Smith and Morgan Parker, and revisiting Seamus Heaney and Linda Pastan and Joy Harjo and W. S. Merwin. I’m one of those people who always checks out the poetry section of a bookstore and suggests that the store stock more poetry. I’m not any good at writing it—I tried in high school and college, and most of my poems were terrible—but turning over and over to a form in which I have never succeeded, far from making me feel inadequate, just inspires me as a writer and as a human, reminding me of the beauty and necessity of language.”
—Nicole Chung, author of All You Can Ever Know (Catapult, 2018)