Cold Sore Lip Red Coat

Hoa Nguyen

What if I ate too much food     there beingnot enough money     immigrantyand save all the ketchup                                    packets     GeorgeCarlin record on the record playerof how many ways to curse     and theyare all funny    (small brown bird with a blackneck and a beak full of fluff for a nest)        The old joke: "How many feetdo you have?"     instead of"How tall are you?"This looks like joy     a jokewho looked at you and laughedLook at the map upside down     so that southis north and north is south            it's the otherway around because it's the commonly agreed tothing     (visual language of the colonizer) orsnowful awful     tearful wishful

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photo of Hoa Nguyen
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Waylon Smith

Hoa Nguyen is author of several books of poetry including Red Juice: Poems 1998-2008 and Violet Energy Ingots. A poetic meditation on historical, personal, and cultural pressures pre- and post-“Fall-of-Saigon”, her most recent title, A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure, was selected for the longlist of the National Book Award 2021. Born in the Mekong Delta and raised and educated in the United States, Hoa lives in Tkaronto with her family.

"'I rename myself a bell to ring,' Nguyen writes, and that bell rings with impressive tonal and melodic versality throughout her work. This dense collection, rife with the life of the body, is proof of what language can bear witness to, a testament Nguyen makes wholly her own."
Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Nguyen's latest tells the story of Diệp Anh Nguyễn, the author's mother and a daredevil motorcyclist whose portrait — seductively and maniacally posing on her bike — appears at the beginning of the collection. An investigation of mothers and motherlands, devilry and diaspora, this book chronicles her mother's story but delivers almost nothing in the way of facts or events. Nguyen pulls off a paradox, a biography composed of gestures, the sort of thing that could only happen in poetry."
NPR

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