BAR HARBOR—Michael Chang’s poetry chapbook, “Drakkar Noir,” won Bateau Press’ 2020/2021 BOOM Chapbook Contest. The book will be published on May 1 as a handsewn, letterpress chapbook with a cover and layout designed by College of the Atlantic student Morgane Saint-Cyr.
The book’s poetry explores queerness and race in America with equal measures of amusement and frustration. “We get hundreds of manuscripts for our chapbook contest and we are often overwhelmed by the amount of good writing out there,” said College of the Atlantic writing professor and Bateau Press Editor–in-Chief Dan Mahoney. “When I first read ‘Drakkar Noir,’ I was instantly intrigued by the title. It walked me back through my teen years in the 80s when I thought the essence of cool was having an essence that was cool.”
But the poems inside the book are not superficial, they are a genuine knockout, said Mahoney. “Drakkar Noir makes me question what is and is not poetry, makes me appreciate how poetic forms are rediscovered generationally, and makes me enraged that I did not write it,” added Mahoney. “Michael Chang is the real deal. Bateau is so happy to be publishing this work.”
In an interview for Maudlin House, Gauraa Shekhar asked Chang how they balance humor and sadness in their writing. Chang responded that for them it’s “critical to balance a confident, unabashed voice with a little bit of vulnerability, these flashes of awareness and self-deprecation, and that’s where the humor can come in.” As to what they find compelling in a poem, Chang says that they like “bold, high-energy poems that don’t take themselves too seriously,” adding that “it is very important to be candid and clear-eyed about our issues [that we face as a society], but also offer a nod toward the future, a path forward, in an aspirational way. Ambition and aspiration are key drivers for my work.”
A Lambda Literary fellow, Chang was awarded the Kundiman Scholarship at the Miami Writers Institute. A finalist in contests at the Iowa Review, BOMB, NightBlock and many others, their poems have been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize.
Bateau Press, a letterpress publisher of chapbooks and an annual magazine, is committed to producing high-quality, well-designed, environmentally minded products. As of 2016, Bateau is housed within College of the Atlantic. Students from the college work with Bateau to sew chapbooks, organize readings and help foster a literary community on Mount Desert Island.