Justin Chin

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Justin Chin
Portrait of Justin Chin by Kevin Killian (Jan. 6 2006)
Portrait of Justin Chin
by Kevin Killian (Jan. 6 2006)
Born8 September 1969
Malaysia
Died(2015-12-24)24 December 2015
San Francisco
Occupationpoet, essayist, performer
LanguageEnglish
NationalityAmerican
EducationUniversity of Hawaii at Manoa
GenreQueer literature, Poetry slam
Notable worksBite Hard, Mongrel, Harmless Medicine, Gutted, 98 Wounds
Notable awardsThom Gunn Award

Justin Chin (1969-2015) was a Malaysian-American poet, essayist and performer.[1] In his work he often dealt with queer Asian-American identity and interrogated this category's personal and political circumstances.[2]

Biography[edit]

Chin was born in Malaysia and was raised in Singapore by his parents of whom his father was a Christian physician and had high expectations for his son.[3] After graduating from school in Singapore he left home and enrolled at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.[4]

As a freshman, he signed up for Intro to Creative Writing which was an important turn for his development as a writer. Faye Kicknosway, who is a poet and visual artist,[5] was teaching this class and she became an important figure in Chin's early career. She encouraged him to write and introduced him to R. Zamora Linmark and Lisa Asagi, who remained important supporters of his art throughout his life.[6] In 1990 Justin Chin attended the first Outwrite Conference in San Francisco with economic support from the faculty advisor to the university's gay and lesbian group. About this experience Justin Chin wrote: "Being at that conference showed me what was possible, that I could find myself in a continuum, a lineage that was grand and literary, that needed no elucidation or defense, no vindication or apologia."[7]

After the conference, in 1991, he moved to San Francisco where he took residence for the rest of his life. He transferred to the journalistic program at San Francisco State University. Shortly after moving to San Francisco he started writing poems, essays, fiction and performance pieces to express his opinions in a less limited media.[2] In 1995 and 1996 he became a member of the San Francisco National Poetry Slam team. In 1996 he was also awarded a "Goldie" "for the distinction of his spoken word performances".[2]

In 1997 he published his first poetry collection Bite Hard (Manic D Press).[8] Bite Hard was followed by the collections Harmless Medicine (Manic D Press, 2001)[9] and Gutted (Manic D Press, 2006),[10] which was the winner of the 2007 Thom Gunn Award and finalist for the Lambda Literary Award.

In addition to these collections he also wrote four books of quasi-autobiographical prose of which the first was Mongrel: Essays, Diatribes + Pranks (St. Martin's Griffin, 1999).[11] followed by Burden of Ashes (Alyson Books, 2002).[12] In 2005 he published a collection of performance art texts documenting his performance work from 1993 to 2001 under the title Attack of the Man-Eating Lotus Blossoms (Suspect Thoughts Press).[13] In 2011 he had his first fiction collection published: 98 Wounds (Manic D Press, 2011)[14] "Other than his published work Chin has created eight full-length solo performance works and several shorter works that he has performed around the United States."[15]

His life tragically ended on December 24, 2015 with a stroke, related to complications of AIDS.[16]

Themes[edit]

In his authorship, Justin Chin dealt with identity categories such as Asian American, Gay writer and Queer. In Bite Hard for example, Justin Chin "explores his identity as an Asian, a gay man, an artist, and a lover".[8] These categories of 'radicalized desire',[17] and their intersections, are categories that have also influenced his own life (see Biography). His "performance pieces and writings articulate a lot of pains and angers at how queer Asians are invisibilized by gay white men and despised by straight Asian circles and communities"[3] and his work is often "unflinching, and frequently biting, commentary on racial stereotypes, racial tension, Asian-American identity, American consumerism, sexuality, and queer identity"[18]

As for many other queer writers Chin included experiences from his own life and everyday in his writings. Not only things and happenings are included from the actual world Chin lived in, but "attitudes, values and desires".[19] In the book Mongrel: Essays, Diatribes + Pranks Chin is carefully describing the identity navigation in school: "The stigma of being associated with the queens who were so resoundingly ribbed and teased and tormented made me nestle in my comfy closet: I was on the swim team, I participated in sports – something the queens never dreamed of doing".[20]

Through his works Justin Chin worked to give voice to marginalized groups of racial, national or sexual minorities. He questioned the usefulness of categories and language by acknowledging that "men and women, white people and people of color, straight people and LGBT people, lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and trans persons do not sound the same. We are not homogenous."[21] In the same Mongrel: Essays, Diatribes + Pranks he also questions identities as he writes: "I've given up the dream of the Queer Nation. Race, class, gender, ideologies, and values will always divide us. . . . I am so over being queer these days, and I don't care what I call myself these days or what anyone else calls me; it's all a matter of convenience these days."[22] In this way he used his writings to problematize the dominant language and naming by not purely accepting it but rather problematizing it as a "matter of convenience". When thinking of Justin Chin problematizing and critique were some of the core goals of his writings. In an interview with Gerry Gomez Pearlberg for Frigate 'zine, Chin said, "Every work of art that works as art is a critique."[23]

Awards, Fellowships and Grants[edit]

  • California Arts Council
  • Djerassi Artist Residency
  • Franklin Furnace Fund for Performance Art Awards (1998)
  • PEN American Center
  • PEN Center USA West
  • Publishing Triangle's Thom Gunn Award for Poetry (2007)
  • Lambda Literary Award finalist (2011, 2006, 2002, 1998)
  • Bay Area Book Reviewers' Association Award finalist

Bibliography[edit]

Novels and Poetry[edit]

Contributions and appearances[edit]

  • "Imagining America." in The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry. Ed. Alan Kaufman. Basic Books, 1999. P. 264.
  • "Why a Boy," "Cocksucker's Blues," "Undetectable," "Ex-boyfriends Named Michael." in The World in Us: Lesbian and Gay Poetry of the Next Wave. Ed. Michael Lassell, Elena Georgiou. Stonewall Inn editions, 2000. pp. 32–39.
  • "I Buy Sea Monkeys." in Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America. Ed. Quang Bao, Hanya Yanagihara, Timothy Liu. Temple University Press, 2001.
  • "And Judas Boogied until His Slippers Wept." in Gay American Autobiography: Writings from Whitman to Sedaris. Ed. David Bergman. Univ of Wisconsin Press, 2009. pp. 390–400.
  • "Some Notes, Thoughts, Recollections, Revisions, and Corrections Regarding Becoming, Being, and Remaining a Gay Writer". Who's Yer Daddy?: Gay Writers Celebrate Their Mentors and Forerunners. Ed. Jim Elledge, David Groff. University of Wisconsin Press, 2012. pp. 52–57.

Further reading[edit]

  • Hout, Nikolas. "Justin Chin." Contemporary Gay American Poets and Playwrights: An A-to-Z Guide. Ed. Emmanuel Sampath Nelson. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2003. P. 82-86

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Justin Chin : The Poetry Foundation." N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Mar. 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e Hout, Nikolas. Contemporary Gay American Poets and Playwrights: An A-to-Z Guide. Ed. Emmanuel Sampath Nelson. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2003. Print. P. 82.
  3. ^ a b Murray, Stephen O. "Representations of Desires in Some Recent Gay Asian-American Writings." Journal of Homosexuality 45.1 (2003): 111–142. Taylor and Francis+NEJM. Web.
  4. ^ Chin, Justin. Elledge, Jim, and David Groff, eds. "Some Notes, Thoughts, Recollections, Revisions, and Corrections Regarding Becoming, Being, and Remaining a Gay Writer". Who's Yer Daddy?: Gay Writers Celebrate Their Mentors and Forerunners. 1 edition. Madison, Wis: University of Wisconsin Press, 2012. Print. P. 54
  5. ^ "Faye Kicknosway : The Poetry Foundation." N.p., n.d. Web. 27 feb. 2016
  6. ^ Chin, Justin. Elledge, Jim, and David Groff, eds. "Some Notes, Thoughts, Recollections, Revisions, and Corrections Regarding Becoming, Being, and Remaining a Gay Writer". Who's Yer Daddy?: Gay Writers Celebrate Their Mentors and Forerunners. 1 edition. Madison, Wis: University of Wisconsin Press, 2012. Print. Pp. 53-54
  7. ^ Chin, Justin. Elledge, Jim, and David Groff, eds. "Some Notes, Thoughts, Recollections, Revisions, and Corrections Regarding Becoming, Being, and Remaining a Gay Writer". Who's Yer Daddy?: Gay Writers Celebrate Their Mentors and Forerunners. 1 edition. Madison, Wis: University of Wisconsin Press, 2012. Print. P. 57
  8. ^ a b Chin, Justin. Bite Hard. First edition. San Francisco : Emeryville, CA: Manic D Press, Inc., 1997. Print.
  9. ^ Chin, Justin. Harmless Medicine. First edition. San Francisco: Manic D Press, Inc., 2001. Print.
  10. ^ Chin, Justin. Gutted. F First edition. San Francisco: Manic D Press, Inc., 2006. Print.
  11. ^ Chin, Justin. Mongrel : Essays, Diatribes, Pranks 1st Edition by Chin, Justin (1998) Paperback. 1 edition. St. Martin's Griffin, 1709. Print.
  12. ^ Chin, Justin. Burden of Ashes. 1 edition. Los Angeles: Alyson Books, 2002. Print.
  13. ^ Chin, Justin. Attack of the Man-Eating Lotus Blossoms. San Francisco: Suspect Thoughts Press, 2005. Print.
  14. ^ Chin, Justin. 98 Wounds. San Francisco: Manic D Press, Inc., 2011. Print.
  15. ^ Hout, Nikolas. Contemporary Gay American Poets and Playwrights: An A-to-Z Guide. Ed. Emmanuel Sampath Nelson. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2003. Print. P. 82.
  16. ^ McMurtrie, John. "Justin Chin, S.F. Poet Who Incorporated Complex Themes, Dies." SFGate. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Mar. 2016.
  17. ^ Murray, Stephen O. "Representations of Desires in Some Recent Gay Asian-American Writings." Journal of Homosexuality 45.1 (2003): 111–142. Taylor and Francis+NEJM. Web. P. 134
  18. ^ "Justin Chin | Academy of American Poets." [1], n.d. Web. 2 May 2016.
  19. ^ Murray, Stephen O. "Representations of Desires in Some Recent Gay Asian-American Writings." Journal of Homosexuality 45.1 (2003): 111–142. Taylor and Francis+NEJM. Web. P. 113
  20. ^ Chin, Justin. Mongrel : Essays, Diatribes, Pranks 1st Edition by Chin, Justin (1998) Paperback. 1 edition. St. Martin's Griffin, 1709. Print. P. 4
  21. ^ Brownworth, Victoria A. "In Remembrance: Justin Chin." Lambda Literary. N.p., 29 Dec. 2015. Web. 2 May 2016.
  22. ^ Chin, Justin. Mongrel : Essays, Diatribes, Pranks 1st Edition by Chin, Justin (1998) Paperback. 1 edition. St. Martin's Griffin, 1709. Print. P. 34
  23. ^ Pearlberg, Gerry Gomez. "Frigatezine- Essay/Features: Lives: InterText: A Conversation with Justin Chin." N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Mar. 2016.

External links[edit]