Third Place Books welcomes local poet and singer-songwriter Justine Chan to our Seward Park store! Chan will be presenting her debut poetry collection, Should You Lose All Reason(s). Shawn Wong writes of Chan's book, "Justine Chan's long poetic narrative. . . embraces a search for belonging in an American landscape and in an American family with linguistic force, passion, and love. People talk about identity all the time, but Chan shows us how to occupy it and hold it in your heart."
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When Justine Chan worked as a park ranger at Zion National Park, she chose to retell a Southern Paiute folktale for her weekly evening program on coyotes. The more that long, hot summer unfolded, the more time she spent alone in the desert, the more she retold the story, the more the story became her life. And in that space, she began to write.
Should You Lose All Reason(s) is unafraid of looking hard– back, down, towards, around, forward, at the stories we tell, at herself, at the desert, at the sun, at everything. In conversation with the Southern Paiute folktale, she weaves together a triptych of poems, poems both always on the move and stuck, in exile, in wilderness. Drawing from her experiences serving in AmeriCorps, working as a park ranger, and traveling across the United States, she explores race, loneliness, stories, hauntings, family, landscapes and cityscapes, climate change, survival, music, resilience, the West, and America itself.
"Justine Chan's poems are epic-sized, much like the sweeping, cinematic landscapes she writes about. I'm always on the lookout for diverse, alternative experiences about "The West." Multi-storied and multidimensional, where myths come to life and people turn into stars, Chan's imaginarium is dazzling."
—Tiffany Midge, author of The Woman Who Married a Bear
"Justine Chan's beautiful book, Should You Lose All Reason(s), howls with song, with nourishment, with "bright red bougainvillea spilling over fences." Through the power of Chan's anaphora, these poems echo across lush landscapes, with "ladders made of juniper trunks." Chan's lines ask us to wonder and wander, pulling us into visceral ecologies and mythologies that echo with parenthetical ache: "(Sometimes) I (still) can't shake it." As a fellow Asian American poet, I found this a collection that asks us to look, especially at ourselves – and with a tenderness that we are not often given."
—Jane Wong, author of How to Not Be Afraid of Everything
"Justine Chan's debut collection is a mesmerizing tour of the vacancy and fullness across and between deserts and cities. A rapid and exciting lyrical chronicling, the book holds close questions on individualism and family, stasis and movement, flight and loss. It is a humble, acute call towards relationships and how each of us are always near to some and far from others."
—Greg Bem, author of Of Spray and Mist
"Justine Chan's Should You Lose All Reason(s) is an aching and exhaustive elegy. The poems in this gripping debut seem to suggest if you can just name it, it won't be lost."
—francine j. harris, author of Here is the Sweet Hand
Justine Chan is a poet, writer, and singer-songwriter from Chicago. Her writing has appeared in Electric Literature, Baltimore Review, Beecher's, Booth, Poetry on Buses, Midwestern Gothic, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington and has worked many seasons as a park ranger with the National Park Service. She currently lives in Seattle.
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