Nancy Chen Long

Nancy Chen Long lives in the forested hills of south-central Indiana. She received a BS in Electrical Engineering Technology and an MBA, worked as an electrical engineer, software consultant, and project manager, and more recently earned her MFA. As a volunteer for the local Writers Guild, she helps coordinate a reading series for poets and works with other writers to offer free poetry workshops.

Clouds as Inkblots for the War Prone

The chapbook Clouds as Inkblots for the War Prone is the result of Nancy’s participation in the 2013 Pulitzer Remix Project (http://www.pulitzerremix.com/), which took place during April and was sponsored by Found Poetry Review. For the project, poets wrote one poem a day from a Pulitzer Prize-winning work of fiction. Each poet had a different source text and Nancy was assigned the 1949 Pulitzer winner Guard of Honor by James Gould Cozzens. Poets were challenged to create new poems that varied in topic and theme from the original text, rather than merely regurgitating the novels in poetic form. Found poems are the literary equivalents of collages, where words, phrases and lines from existing texts are refashioned into new poems. The genre includes centos, erasure poetry, cut-up poetry, collage, remix, and other textual combinations. The chapbook is Nancy’s first major foray into found poetry. The technique she primarily used was remix, in which she mixed and rearranged phrases and individual words chosen out of a selection of text, as well as new words that were not in the selection, but that were discovered by applying erasure to a word or phrase. For more information about found poetry and a few of  the techniques that can be used, see “About Found Poetry” at the Found Poetry Review,  “Absent Things As If They Are Present” by Jeannie Vanasco, and “Collaboration and remix [by Rachel Barenblat]” at American Poetry. For more information about remix as it applies to the creative process, listen to Austin Kleon’s talk “Steal Like An Artist” and Kirby Ferguson’s talk “Everything is a remix”. 

Clouds as Inkblots For the War Prone

Consider the earth as more than a speck in the night,
sky more than chalk on a warboard. Consider a swarm,

thick, an advancing cloud. Perhaps to the stouter brain,
such darkness becomes a far-off foe, slight, with no more

than spit enough to swallow. To the hair-triggered eye,
it may be the fog of four thousand fighters in flight,

each with a finger touch, light like the broken angel’s
wing. We know all gunners spit flame. So let the swarm be

a rush of bees. Let it be a bevy of starlings,
birds beyond number, newly fledged. Let it be a bright

mission of men, our familiars, not yet thunderborne,
their groomed young faces never to want for a kickstorm

of lead, never to bore-in once more unto the breach,
for God and country, for flying pay, with a command
of death and a gladness to kill.

What others are saying...

Ingenious, original Nancy Chen Long creates a tantalizing poem collage in Clouds as Inkblots for the War Prone. When Chen Long mixes her 21st-century perceptions and depth of compassion with the vocabulary from a Pulitzer Prize-winning twentieth-century war novel, Guard of Honor by James Gould Cozzens, an imaginary longitude line appears. Across this line connections and sympathies meet, while disconnections and antipathies spar. From her remix the poet makes a seriously playful, playfully serious collage. The irresistible result marks the debut of an inventive new American poet.

-- Molly Peacock

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