Duy Doan’s striking debut reveals the wide resonance of the collection’s unassuming title, in poems that explore—now with abundant humor, now with a deeply felt reserve—the ambiguities and tensions that mark our effort to know our histories, our loved ones, and ourselves. These are poems that draw from Doan’s experience as a Vietnamese-American while at the same time making a case for—and masterfully playing with—the fluidity of identity, history, and language. Nothing is alien to these poems: the Saigon of a mother’s dirge, the footballer Zinedine Zidane, an owl that “talks to his other self in the well”—all have a place in Doan’s far-reaching and intimately human art.
“These are intimate, mischievous poems, alternately wry, forthright, vulnerable, winking, and sincere.”—Nina MacLaughlin, The Boston Globe
“Refreshingly unshowy, Doan’s collection is not an obvious choice for a big prize, but it reveals itself to be a deserving one.”—Publishers Weekly
“Bold, bright, yet decidedly unsettled and unsettling, this first collection . . . doesn’t so much explore Doan’s Vietnamese American experience as defy it.”—Library Journal, starred review, Top Spring Poetry
Winner of the 2019 Lamda Literary Awards, Bisexual Poetry category