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Book Cover for: With My Back to the World: Poems, Victoria Chang

With My Back to the World: Poems

Victoria Chang

A new collection of poetry inspired by the work of Agnes Martin, exploring topics of feminism, art, depression, and grief, by the author of the prizewinning collection Obit.

Yesterday I slung my depression on my back and went to the museum. I only asked four attendants where the Agnes painting was and the fifth one knew. I walked into the room and saw it right away. From afar, it was a large white square.

With My Back to the World engages with the paintings and writings of Agnes Martin, the celebrated abstract artist, in ways that open up new modes of expression, expanding the scope of what art, poetry, and the human mind can do. Filled with surprise and insight, wit and profundity, the book explores the nature of the self, of existence, life and death, grief and depression, time and space. Strikingly original, fluidly strange, Victoria Chang's new collection is a book that speaks to how we see and are seen.

Book Details

  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publish Date: Apr 2nd, 2024
  • Pages: 112
  • Language: English
  • Dimensions: 8.70in - 6.10in - 0.80in - 0.65lb
  • EAN: 9780374611132
  • Categories: Subjects & Themes - Death, Grief, LossWomen AuthorsAmerican - General

About the Author

Chang, Victoria: - Victoria Chang has written several books of poetry, including The Trees Witness Everything (2022), and a nonfiction book, Dear Memory (2021). Her poetry collection OBIT was named a New York Times Notable Book and a Time Must-Read Book, and received the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in Poetry, and the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry. It was also long-listed for a National Book Award and named a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Griffin International Poetry Prize. Chang has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Chowdhury International Literature Award. She is the Bourne Chair in Poetry at Georgia Tech and the director of Poetry@Tech.

Praise for this book

Advance Praise

"Painterly, meditative . . . Full of memorable insights as Chang experiments with erased and occluded work, all the while operating in the realm of feeling, where 'desire is the only thing / with nerve endings.' These elegiac poems thoughtfully balance the head and the heart."
--Publisher's Weekly (starred review)

"Victoria Chang's lucid and playful poetry surprised and moved me with its friendly abundance of Koanlike lines--stimulating yet calming news from the dreamy outskirts of human consciousness."
--Tao Lin, author of Leave Society

"In Agnes Martin's grid paintings, each pale rectangle can feel like an hour, a day, or a year. The effect of all these small variations seen at once approximates the overwhelming fact of other lives. With My Back to the World gives Victoria Chang that same kind of quiet, intimate, constrained but infinite room to work in. This book is the record of an artful, attentive mind, full of startling insights ("My solitude is like the grass. I become so aware of its presence that it too begins to feel like an audience"), a testament to care, integrity, and persistence."
--Elisa Gabbert, author of Normal Distance