I’m honored to announce the publication of my poem “Fourteen” in The Suburban Review #8, Summer 2017 issue. Available now online.
The sonnet is one of my favorite forms—a compact love song that packs a punch. In “Fourteen,” I used this traditional form to explore a contemporary subject. This poem is about a fourteen year-old girl whom, motivated by boredom, decides to experiment sexually without grasping the magnitude of such acts or her own developing sexual powers. [read poem, page 27]
The Suburban Review is a literary collective based in Melbourne, Australia. A quarterly digital journal of short fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry and art. Digital issues are AU$7.00 each.
I’m honored to announce the publication of two poems from my Vietnam series in the “Vietnam Forever,” 5th Anniversary double issue of Perfume River Poetry Review by Tourane Poetry Press in San Jose, California.
For this poem, I highlighted the collection of scenes from the market place as representatives of a larger reality. Post-war Vietnam, where the transfer of wealth from one privileged class to another had created incomprehensible poverty and deficit, was “the worst of times.” People haggled over the price of one green mango and one liter of fish sauce. A toy pot made of clay was considered a luxury item. And when human and cultural survival is under such an attack, sometimes it’s necessary to pretend not to see the disturbing things right in front of you (just as the child in the poem pretended not to see the fly walked across the old woman’s eyes) in order for life to press onward. By showing these scenes through a child’s lens, I remove politics from the narrative, making the political personal. War is personal. Hunger is personal. [read poem, page 21]
This poem is as much a tribute to my wanderlust father as it is a tribute to the place that we both love. Vũng Tàu on the South China Sea was once bright and full of colors, but now only lives as an ideal backdrop for daydreams. Written as a blank verse, I wanted to use the structure of the traditional form to capture the rhythm of the sea, which was the constant heartbeat beneath the skin of all our narratives. [read poem, page 23]
I have decided to do a double issue for our fifth anniversary. One issue will explore Vietnamese culture, celebrate our heritage, and give voice to what it means to be Vietnamese. The second issue will be a tribute to Vietnam War veterans and survivors, whose stories need to be told and need to be heard—now more than ever. As there must be time for war and a time for peace, there too must an issue for war and one that allows poems to sing about Vietnam. Print issues are $15 each.
I’m honored to announce the publication of my poem “Conversations with the Diocese of the Desert” in issue no. 15 of 3Elements Literary Review, Summer 2017. This issue is available free online.
About “Conversations with the Diocese of the Desert”
For this issue, contributors were tasked to use the words “temple,” “yard sale,” and “visitation” in a poem. In Biblical writings, a visitation is defined as the divine investigation or inspection of person’s character and deeds with a view to apportioning to them their due lot, whether of reward or of chastisement; divine dispensation of mercy or of punishment. (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia) Inspired by this word and a strange dream about abandoned lawn chairs in the desert, I created a narrative about a woman who goes to the desert to seek answers. On a lawn chair, facing the dawning of a new day and a person whom she believes to be holy, she asks all her relevant and irrelevant questions, but receives no holy answers in return. Discovery, after all, is only achieved through repeated self-questioning. [page 47]
3Elements Literary Review is an independent literary journal, publishing fiction, nonfiction, poetry, art, and photography. Please show your support by visiting the website.
I’m honored to announce the publication of my poem “Summer Sale” in the Spring/Summer 2017 issue of Common Ground Review.
About “Summer Sale”
In this poem, the place—a strange antique shop located in an aging downtown of a forgotten town—is the subject. The poem points the reader’s attention to the blue-colored objects in the shop and around town—from cobalt plates to tungsten steps to cyan lights, everything blue is priced for a summer sale. It’s as if the town is trying to rid itself of the “blues.”
To create a sense of nostalgia for a bygone time, I used an iambic pentameter with a traditional rhyme scheme (ababcc). When writing in metrical verse, I usually employ internal rhymes, slant rhymes and enjambments in order to avoid the hard-hitting repetition of sounds that can come across as sing-song and/or passé, which tends to turn the contemporary reader off of traditional verse. [page 50]
Affiliated with Western New England University, Common Ground Review publishes well-crafted poems that surprise and illuminate, amuse and inform, and challenge. Issues are $10 each.
I’m honored that my poem “Cactus Dawn” is included in the Summer 2017 issue of Off the Coast. This issue is available free online.
This poem allows the reader a peak into the internal monologue of the poem’s speaker. By structuring it as a stream consciousness poem, I’m appealing to the reader to take an active role in getting to know this speaker, to navigate between surreal images and memories, and then decide on what’s real and what’s imagined. Finally, somewhere in that confusion, the speaker’s relationship with herself and with the man whom she woke to find gone is revealed. [read & listen to poem]
Edited by AE Talbot, Off the Coast is a biannual online literary journal that aims to provide space for diverse and marginalized voices.
I’m happy to announce that my poems “To Myself at Eight” and “The Disappearance” are featured in the beautiful Summer 2017 issue of Hypertrophic Literary. [Available online and in print].
About “To Myself at Eight”
In the passing along of female traditions, the cost of such inheritance is often freedom. Mothers packaged their seasoned fears and self-imposed limitations into neat boxes, which they gift to their daughters in the form of expectations and wisdom. Be pretty, they say. Be quiet and demure. Don’t be smarter than men. An unmarried woman is incomplete, etc. How do girls, born free but aren’t raised free, emancipate themselves from this inherited mental slavery when the well-meaning people in the lives, mothers, aunts, grandmothers—the ones responsible for their development into womanhood—insist upon oppression disguised as traditions? [page 8]
About “The Disappearance”
Written in three parts, this poem occupies the space created by the aftermath of an event. The reader enters the poem after a family unit has been broken apart, and as the dust settles the damage reveals itself. In part 1, the reader is introduced to the husband and father. Left and indignant, he expresses his anger outwardly, losing control on everyday objects. In part 3, the left child expresses her anger inwardly, learning secretive ways to cope. And sandwiched between them in part 2 are their shared memories of the woman who’s disappeared from their lives—wife, mother, buffer—leaving behind people who are just as broken as she was. [page 30]
About Hypertrophic Literary
Hypertrophic Press is an independent press that publishes both books and a quarterly literary magazine. Digital issues are $3 each. Printed issues are $10 each. [visit website]
I’m honored that my poem “To Myself at Seven” was selected for publication in the Spring 2017 issue of Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review. [Available for purchase.]
About “To Myself at Seven”
I wanted to write a poem about being a girl, about how culture define a girl’s place in the world through gender-biased beliefs and limitations—limitations that that are passed on from mothers to daughters to sisters. In The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir wrote, “To be feminine is to show oneself as weak, futile, passive, and docile. The girl is supposed not only to primp and dress herself up but also to repress her spontaneity and substitute for it the grace and charm she has been taught by her elder sisters. Any self-assertion will take away from her femininity and her seductiveness.”
I grew up in post-war Vietnam, which makes the details of my childhood different from others, but the journey is the same. I was discouraged and punished for climbing trees, as if in reaching high places, I’d get too accustomed to the view from the top. “…her wings are cut and then she is blamed for not knowing how to fly.” (Beauvoir) This is a universal experience of girlhood.
About Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review
Partially funded by the Texas Commission on the Arts and the City of Austin Cultural Contracts, Borderlands was founded by graduated students at the University of Texas at Austin. Since its debut in 1992, Borderlands continues to receive wide critical acclaim and garners a national readership. Issues are $10.00 each. [visit website]