Eva Chen

Eva Chen is a 16-year-old poet, photographer and social justice activist. Her writing has been recognized in the Scholastic Arts and Writing Competition and published in The Weight JournalCatcher Zine, and Cathartic Literary Magazine. She co-founded Footprints on Jupiter, a teen literary magazine, to raise funds for the World Literacy Foundation.

In the summer of 2021, she volunteered at the California State Treasurer’s Office and conducted independent research on current issues and public policy in California. She has authored a four-page analysis paper on The Street Medicine Act (AB 369) and gave presentations on ways to address ongoing state problems through legislation.

As a Burlingame Public Library Teen Advisory Board Member, she helps organize activities catered to youth and teens. Some of her projects include writing workshops and a poetry slam for United Against Hate Week. Through Letters Against Depression, she volunteers online to write letters to those battling mental health issues.

In 2022, Eva was named the San Mateo County Young Woman of Excellence Awardee, and will be the first youth poet to be inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame in May. The Women’s Hall of Fame was the first of its kind in the State of California, conceived by Congresswoman Anna Eshoo in 1984 to recognize outstanding women for their achievements and contributions to the overall wellbeing of our County.

In September 2022, Eva Chen was appointed Youth Poet-in-Residence of the City of Burlingame.

Poem on Belonging

RETRACING

I am from dusty red envelopes,
from too-sweet tangerines and steaming pork buns,
I am from the backstreets of a Chinatown alleyway,
(Dark, but never unforgotten, and always
reverating against the strums of a pipa violin)
I am from oak woods & minted cedar,
from pine needles so sharp they pull against your skin -
I am from kitchen conversations & too-wide gummy smiles,
from the loudest table across the restaurant,
from the smell of smoked bacon paired with sunny-side eggs.
From “Stand straight!” and “Stop Slouching!”
I’m from praying to full-moons in Mid-Autumn
to wishing good health on every doorstep.
I’m from the golden limbs of California,
to the copper valleys of rice fields, from
sugar rock crystals, and baked cornbread on a
Saturday morning. From the immigration
journey of my parents, to the home we left
in San Francisco, behind the living room
cabinets sits a little time machine, journaling
the remnants of our past on stained yellow
pages — I am from the fadeness of these photos
left behind to develop behind a chalky film,
forever growing, strung to the place where I began,

Copyright © 2022 by Eva Chen. Used with permission of the author.

Read Eva Chen’s ecopoem, “decompose”.