Geneva/Genève Chao

Geneva/Genève Chao (Poetry, Translation) | Los Angeles, CA

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Negotiable

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Anywhere

Contact:

genevachao_at_gmail.com

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Geneva/Genève Chao has a B.A. in French Translation and Literature from Barnard College and an MA/MFA from San Francisco State University’s Creative Writing program. Her poems and translations have been published in Boxkite, Can We Have Our Ball Back?, (Satellite) Telephone, n/a literary journal, New American Writing, DIAGRAM, the L.A. Telephone Book, and others. Her book one of us is wave one of us is shore (Otis Books | Seismicity Editions, 2016) was also a finalist for the Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize. Her translations of Gérard Cartier’s Tristran and Nicolas Tardy’s (with François Luong) Encrusted on the Living have appeared from [lx] press, where she is an editor. She has twice been a Tamaas resident for work on the intersectionality of language/poetry and dance/the body. Her book Hillary Is Dreaming is forthcoming from Make Now Books. An interview with her is here: http://robmclennan.blogspot.com/2016/07/12-or-20-second-series-questions-with_74.html

Books (Poetry)

one of us is wave one of us is shore (Otis Books/ Seismicity Editions, 2016). Poetry.
one of us is wave one of us is shore (Otis Books/ Seismicity Editions, 2016). Poetry.

Books (Translations)

Encrusted on the Living (lx press, 2015). Poems by Nicholas Tardy. Translation by Geneva Chao & François Luong. Poetry.
Encrusted on the Living (lx press, 2015). Poems by Nicholas Tardy. Translation by Genève Chao & François Luong. Poetry.
Tristran (lx press, 2015). Poetry by Gerard Cartier. Translation by Genève Chao. Poetry.
Tristran (lx press, 2015). Poetry by Gerard Cartier. Translation by Geneva Chao. Poetry.

Blurbs, Press & Reviews

Otis Books/Seismicity Editions has been on a roll of late, producing a steady stream of interesting and compelling books. Well, strike the word “steady,” for part of the excitement about their recent activities has been the sheer unpredictability of what comes out. Last time it was the so-simple-why-didn’t-anyone-think-of it brilliance of the Cross-Strokes anthology (edited by Cherkovski and Mohr), which explores the intersectionality between San Francisco and Los Angeles in unexpected and vivid ways.

Now comes Geneva Chao’s full length poem in five parts, without a capital letter in sight, one of us is wave, one of us is shore. I guess there are some capital letters here and there, most reliably in the proper names of those from whose work she draws her epigraphs: Philip Sidney, Lisa Robertson, Stacy Doris, Nathalie Stephens, Brian Stefans; and here and there an “O” in French, a stylish acknowledgement of the poet’s place between languages. “O bel inconstant, y a que toi dont je me languis,” writes Chao, and as I make it out it something like, “oh beautiful unfaithful one, it is only you for whom I pine.” There is an air of romantic indecision like the films of Max Ophuls or Claire Denis, and of strong emotion that can’t be contained by one tongue, and so the poetry in continually flip-flopping between French and English, as though there were too much to say, and also to maintain a dignified, intriguing discretion.

Yes, and its opposite, too, “a gleeful breaching/ of fences,” a daring display, a “head open for viewing.” The five sections of the poem correspond, up to a point, to traditional phases of rhetoric and logic, the thesis, the antithesis, the synthesis, but Geneva Chao has left the forensic society long ago and is moving into territory unknown. It is a book of pedagogy too, generous in its instruction: “I teach you to run from end to end/ of the garret to crowd/ your head with vista:/ / what is a direction/ other than another direction,/ to collect and to stuff/ in a pocket a petals each oracle of love.” I quote at length to show more of Chao’s inventive syntax (“petals” above, where after the article “a” one might have expected a single “petal”) and to illustrate something of the effusive, hectic movement of the verse—maybe a filmic movement is the best way to describe it.

Anyways it makes you never want to read anything that’s just in one language any more. It is a slim book but filled with froth and pale fire and fantasy, a shock to the system like a perfect glass of champagne.
—Kevin Killian