‘Why There Is No Interest in Singing’ by Nancy Chen Long

— Hannah Cohen

A call to voice is a call to asphyxiation

or a poem about the restraints of sound and harmony, I’m left speechless when it comes to describing the auditory beauty of this opus by Nancy Chen Long. Even the very word “opus” appears near the beginning, setting us up for a poem that collects every type of musical term you could think of and transforms it. Here, every vowel is particularly placed with the hard and short of consonants—look at “syncopated arrangements” next to “alien strain”. Echoes of rhyme bounce within each line (“minor” and “meter”, “chord” and “code”), making its own chorus.

I highly recommend listening to the recording of Nancy Chen Long reading this poem. Every refrain-like stanza comes alive. You’ll find yourself singing this very poem in your head and in your throat.

The Adroit Journal