Ken Chen is an Assistant Professor and the Associate Director of Creative Writing at Barnard College of Columbia University. He is currently working on his next book Death Star, which follows his journey to the underworld to rescue his father and his encounters there with those destroyed by colonialism. His poetry collection, Juvenilia, was selected for the Yale Series of Younger Poets by Louise Glück, who wrote, “Like only the best poets, Ken Chen makes with his voice a new category.”
He has received awards and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Poetry magazine, and the Cullman Fellowship at the New York Public Library. He has published work in Best American Essays 2006, N+1, The New Republic, Frieze, The New Inquiry, Poetry, Bomb, and NPR’s All Things Considered. He serves as editor of the Spatial Species series with Youmna Chlala at Coffee House Press and was an Editor at Large for Astra journal. He is represented by The Wylie Agency.
From 2008 to 2019, Chen served as the Executive Director of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. He has worked as a consultant for numerous organizations, including Creative Capital, the New York Community Trust, the Academy of American Poets, and the National Book Foundation, for which he served as a National Book Award Judge. A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and Yale Law School, he was part of a legal team that successfully argued for the asylum of an undocumented Muslim teenager, a case named one of the top ten pro bono cases of the year. He co-founded the cultural website Arts & Letters Daily and CultureStrike, a national arts organization dedicated to migrant justice that organized a weeklong 50-person trip to the Arizona/Mexico border in 2011.
View his LinkedIn page here. Download full CV here.
MEDIA MENTIONS & APPEARANCES
“A Poem in The Nation Spurs a Backlash and an Apology,” New York Times, 8/1/18.
“Michael Derrick Hudson Won Awards as Yi-Fen Chou.” Daily Beast, 4/20/18
Signatory to a letter in support of Queens Museum of Art Executive Director Laura Raicovich. Hyperallergic 1/31/18.
“A Writer Workshop for Workers and a Long Poem,” The New Yorker, 9/7/17.
Listing for the Top 100 People in Brooklyn culture, Brooklyn Magazine, 9/8/16
“AAWW Continues the Conversation,” Poets & Writers, 12/15/15.
“Something Borrowed,” The New Yorker, 10/5/15.
“There’s a New Movement in American Poetry and It’s Not Kenneth Goldsmith,” The New Republic, 2015.
“They Pretend To Be Us While Pretending We Don’t Exist,” Buzzfeed, 9/11/15.
“A White Poet Borrows a Chinese Name and Sets Off Fireworks,” New York Times, 9/9/15.
“Jeff Chang on Hip Hop, Street Art, and Racial Justice in America,” NBC News, 11/12/14.
“#ActualAsianPoet Claps Back at White Poet Who Used Asian Pen Name,” Colorlines, 9/14/14.
“To Achieve Diversity In Publishing, A Difficult Dialogue Beats Silence,” All Things Considered, 2014.
“In Elite MFA Programs, The Challenge Of Writing While ‘Other,’” All Things Considered, 2014.
“Getting Laughs at a Launch,” Wall Street Journal, 7/2/12
“Chinese in America: Exclusion and Integration,” Asia Society, 10/7/10
“Censors Without Borders,” New York Times, 5/10/10
Press release for Juvenilia from Yale University Press.