Sour Heart author talks to Karen Cheung about epic domesticity and the politics of taste
Days before Jenny Zhang’s scheduled readings in Hong Kong, I stumbled upon a list she had curated of her favorite things on the internet: it was, I’m sure, the only time I’ll ever see our homegirl Faye Wong on a list with Frank O’Hara. I find out from the same article that Zhang has a habit of texting her friends during poetry readings: “HELP SOS CALL 911 ALERT THE COAST GUARDS GET ME OUTTA HERE.” Sometimes she does this at her own readings. Zhang’s poems struck me as best experienced not live but on the page: there are short forms, lowercases, punctuation marks gone awry, poetic misspellings, as if you were reading the intimate diary of an unsettlingly wise and eloquent teenager. With her sweet, gooey voice and once-pastel colored hair, you’re almost tempted to think of her as a manic pixie dream girl. Except you don’t.