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Hoa Nguyen

1967–

Hoa Nguyen was born January 26, 1967, in the Mekong Delta near Saigon, Vietnam. When she was eighteen months old, she moved to the United States and was raised in the Washington, D.C., area. Nguyen earned her MFA at the New College of California in San Francisco, where she studied with Tom Clark and Lyn Hejinian, and remained active in the Bay Area poetry scene for years before moving in 1997 to Austin, Texas, where she lived for fourteen years. While in Austin, Nguyen cofounded—along with her husband, poet Dale Smith—Skanky Possum, a small press poetry journal and book imprint through which they published the work of poets such as Amiri Baraka, Linh Dinh, Eileen Myles, and Alice Notley.

Nguyen is the author of five poetry collections: Violet Energy Ingots (Wave Books, 2016), Red Juice: Poems 1998–2008 (Wave Books, 2014), As Long as Trees Last (Wave Books, 2012), Hecate Lochia (Hot Whiskey Press, 2009), and Your Ancient See Through (Subpress, 2002).

“Hoa Nguyen’s poems might appear fragmented at first—like pieces of broken china … but the pieces of image and story that make up her poems prove to be more particle than fragment, each integral and necessary. The space between these particles is as meaningful as the space between stars. The poems move according to an order that reveals its presence slowly, offering humor and beauty as rewards along the way,” writes Iris Cushing in BOMB.

Nguyen has performed, lectured, and fulfilled residencies at a number of colleges and universities, including Brown University, Buffalo State, Naropa University, the Toronto New School of Writing, and the University of Texas at Austin. She currently teaches poetics at Ryerson University and lives in Toronto.


Selected Bibliography

Violet Energy Ingots (Wave Books, 2016)

Red Juice: Poems 1998–2008 (Wave Books, 2014)

As Long as Trees Last (Wave Books, 2012)
Hecate Lochia (Hot Whiskey Press, 2009)
Your Ancient See Through (Subpress, 2002)

 

Hoa Nguyen
Photo credit: Vincent Tran

By This Poet

4

Swell

Swell     you can dream more   the earth
swells      seeds pop
I glance at the prize
eyes closed in the glancing

It's not a time to run
I wear soft shoes
and it took a long time
to walk here

Insects nudge me in my dreams
like the 5 honey bees plus
the strange one
Intelligent bee glances buzzing

to say   Let me out    The fake
lights confuse us
confuses the source

Worker bee buzzed my neck
directly   me not turning off
lamps fast enough

Please
     just open the door
to the sun

Autumn Poem 2012

Call capable
      a lemony
light & fragile

Time like a ball and elastic

so I can stop burning the pots

        wondering yes       electric stove

She is her   but I don't reme
mber                         remember
the ashes I obsess    She said

I was obsessed with
(not wanting to work with
ashes)

     Mandible dream
    says the street
& ash work

              because the scorn
and ions long
there   I wor   I woke up
in the overlooked dark

           I work
do that warp    twistingly
wrap the dead

Black and white like the
long-dead    starved pet rodent
eating the basement
        curtains and peanut shells


  I walk    I wal
I walks down sometimes
why the advi

abide    the advice was

not "Fair better"
but "Fail better"

Auto dish soap
½ and ½
Coffee beans

Bake the golden things
Rust colors
Rust colors

Haunted Sonnet

Haunt lonely and find when you lose your shadow
secretive house centipede on the old window

You pronounce Erinys as “Air-n-ease”
Alecto: the angry    Magaera: the grudging

Tisiphone: the avenger (voice of revenge)
“Women guardians of the natural order”

Think of the morning dream with ghosts     
Why draw the widow’s card and wear the gorgeous

Queen of Swords crown                Your job is
to rescue the not-dead woman before she enters

the incinerating garbage shoot      wrangle silver
raccoon power          Forever a fought doll

She said, “What do you know about Vietnam?”
Violet energy ingots      Tenuous knowing moment

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