TO LOVE AN ARTIST is a book of tracing and traveling through different practices of marking time and space—from the archaeological to the choreographical, architectural, and meteorological. Through an inheritance passing down several long sequences that unravel and re-combine ecological evidences, biblical/military/technocratic narratives, bureaucratic jargon, and the crypt/crip’d of family mythology emerge curses, (mis)pronunciations, tonics, prospectings, topplings, hopscotch, prosthetics, selves nesting within selves, lathes turning upon other lathes, in a newfound extramundane of the fractal and fissure(d). This book is about a rock… that’s also a tumor… that’s also a cloud formation… that’s also industrial residue… that’s also mugwort resin… that’s also a rock.
“Mutual assured destruction, the cold war, the narrative strategies of the bible, war and translation and the translation of war, childbirth, copper mining, disease and the history of medicine, climate change, plague, how we know things, how we know that we know things, how we think and how we produce knowledge, how we understand our bodies in relation to the collective bodies and how our bodies absorb and resist and persist and absorb. We might say, correctly, that Valerie Hsiung’s TO LOVE AN ARTIST is about these things, but really these things are the vehicle through which the book meditates, in a form that’s vivid and hypnotic, about the violence and vehemence of language, voice, memory, composition and the various tools of love and art and their intricate and unruly intermeshings. This is a book of sustenance, danger, and generosity.” — Daniel Borzutsky
“TO LOVE AN ARTIST teleports the reader between worlds: from Bronze Age proto-language to cosmic dust; from the blinking sonar of collapsing global missile systems to the light of the Etsy lamp at the corner of the bed; from 16th century missionaries to 20th century Red Guards to Earthstrike operatives; from an American woman who dies of drinking too much water to a Chinese woman who has no potable water. Hsiung’s long poem provides mind-bending transportation across a flattened globe where timelines melt into simultaneous layers. Now that you can see all of it at once, what will you do? Reading this book is to feel airborne, yet accountable. A multidimensional ride.” — Jena Osman
“Este es un libro escrito desde uno de tantos mundos desapercibidos, desde una raza que se amplifica y globaliza para establecerse en el mismo cuerpo que habitamos: un cuerpo que nació arropado por los pesticidas, al que no hemos dejado un sólo centímetro sin explotar: desde los minerales, hasta la nociva narrativa europea del amor.” — Dolores Dorantes
“Almost classical in the forward motion of its language, TO LOVE AN ARTIST proposes a parallel path alongside what once might have been a novella but is now this. The quality of words and syntax bond us in narrative trust even as the narrator/s hold their cards close, divulging only so much. The rigor of Valerie Hsiung’s intent grips us in a journey that remains intimate even though its motive force derives from an unflinching consciousness of our tortured world.” — Ammiel Alcalay
“We begin at the beginning of written language. Or we begin in mineral. Or we begin in the body where minerals are stored along with breath and utterance. Buoyed by all of the elegant thinking (elegant like a molecule) that Valerie Hsiung offers us in these poems, we traverse narratives of Inflections and infections, plagues and poets, vectors and trade routes. And yet there are no binaries here (“After we were split in two, everything became two, and everything wanted closure at a seam down the middle.”) but webs of urgent inquiry. In TO LOVE AN ARTIST, Hsiung has created a catalogue of queries as well as a history both expansive and particular, unfurling a lyric of oracular knowledges and disasters. We begin at the beginning of written language and end in litany. I am awed, and I am grateful for this journey.” — Susan Briante
“TO LOVE AN ARTIST is to be drawn into her world so that you become a co-creator with her; TO LOVE AN ARTIST is to enter both a bestiary and topiary of language where the latter contorts and morphs through strange yet recognizable beauty; TO LOVE AN ARTIST is to enter the worlds of philosophy, history, politics, and most importantly the quotidian—passing seamlessly from poetry, to the essay, to reflection, to observation while remaining always within the landscape of poetry, as you navigate its repetitions and obsessions and become co-creator; it is to witness the play inherent in language as it meanders “the abyss between literacy and what (the poet) meant to say.” TO LOVE AN ARTIST is to indulge in a form of disquisitionary poetics with a sometimes wry humour and all the while looking at the world aslant. It is astonishingly original work—TO LOVE AN ARTIST.” — M. Nourbese Philip
Literary Nonfiction. Poetry. Essay. Hybrid.
Valerie Hsiung is a poet, interdisciplinary artist, and the author of several poetry and hybrid writing collections, including THE ONLY NAME WE CAN CALL IT NOW IS NOT ITS ONLY NAME (Counterpath, forthcoming 2023), TO LOVE AN ARTIST (Essay Press, 2022), selected by Renee Gladman for the 2021 Essay Press Book Prize, OUTSIDE VOICES, PLEASE (CSU), selected for the 2019 CSU Open Book Prize, Name Date of Birth Emergency Contact (The Gleaners), YOU & ME FOREVER (Action Books), and E F G (Action Books). Her writing has appeared in print, in flesh, in sound waves, and other forms of particulate matter. Her work has been supported by Foundation for Contemporary Arts, PEN America, Lighthouse Works, and public streets and trails she has walked on and hummed along for years. Born in the Year of the Earth Snake and raised by Chinese-Taiwanese immigrants in Cincinnati, Ohio, she now lives in Colorado where she teaches as Assistant Professor of Creative Writing & Poetics at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa.