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The poet laureate processes 9-11

Brooklyn Daily

Brooklyn’s poet laureate has regained her voice.

Park Slope’s own Tina Chang will celebrate the release of her first book since being named the Brooklyn poet laureate last year on Nov. 18 — a collection that took her 10 years to complete.

The poems that comprise “Of Gods and Strangers,” weave together the story of Chang’s struggle to cope with Sept. 11, and examine her role as an observer of world history as economies collapse, foreign wars rage on, and the city continues feel the pain, and attempt to heal, 10 years after the Twin Towers fell. But make no mistake: Chang’s book isn’t therapy — its elements are personal, but they’re also universal to Brooklynites, and everyone else living in contemporary society.

“I came to terms with what it means to be alive, survive, try to cope and live as a human being,” she explained. “This book is about what it means to live in the modern world, and what it means to live in war; the self that is situated here in New York, and the self that relates to other parts of the world.”

After Sept. 11, Chang experienced an extended bout of writer’s block that she was ultimately able to overcome in order to finish “Of Gods and Strangers” — after being appointed Brooklyn’s official disseminator of verse in February, 2010.

“After 9-11, so many writers and artists were reflecting right away, but I experienced a silence,” Chang said. “Becoming the poet laureate of this borough became cathartic — when I stand in front of a classroom full of 7-year-olds and see how excited they are about finding a form of expression, I know that words really do have power.”

Tina Chang reads from “Of Gods and Strangers” at 61 Local [61 Bergen St. between Boerum Place and Smith Street in Boerum Hill (347) 763-6624], Nov. 18, 7 pm. For info visit

Reach Arts Editor Juliet Linderman at or by calling (718) 260-8309.

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