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Virtual: Susan Nguyen, Felicia Zamora, Mai Der Vang
September 13, 2021 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm PDTFree
Join us on Monday, September 13th at 6pm PT when Susan Nguyen is joined by Mai Der Vang and Felicia Zamora for a reading celebrating her debut collection, Dear Diaspora, on Zoom!
Praise for Dear Diaspora
“Dear Diaspora is a capacious and wholly felt account of a speaker’s contending with place and memory. Susan Nguyen’s gorgeous book maps out the longing of a particular Vietnamese immigrant experience—in its main character, the adolescent Suzi—and also captures, through its documentary research, a collection of voices of Vietnam War refugees in the aftermath. Against a backdrop of love and desire is the search to knit together a place of belonging and origin, rooted both in the sensual world and in the realm of the imagination. Dear Diaspora is a heartbreaking and breathtaking debut.”—Cathy Linh Che, author of Split
“Susan Nguyen, in Dear Diaspora, asks: ‘At the center of your calamity, what grows?’ Nguyen’s gorgeously rendered poems answer that question with language and imagination. There’s devastation in this book—an absent father figure, displacement of the speaker, a fragmented Vietnamese diaspora, but out of this devastation emerges beauty. The speaker in this book collects broken things such as cicada wings that become whole in her rich internal world. Nguyen’s talent is palpable from the first line, and what a gift this book is. In her poem ‘Grief as a Question,’ Nguyen writes: ‘no one told me grief could be so ordinary.’ But out of grief and woundedness emerges a voice that is anything but ordinary.”—Victoria Chang, author of Obit
“‘Last night I had the American dream,’ Nguyen writes, puncturing the dream bubble in which ‘America’ exists as the only and inevitable state of success and belonging. In this collection, diaspora, specifically Vietnamese diaspora, is verdant and lush—suffused with green light, mustard greens, grass and trees—blooming through the drought of American love for Nguyen’s speakers. The poems in Dear Diaspora offer us a lexicon we’ve needed to imagine how we might arrive at and receive one another better in land and language, in memory and touch.”—Natalie Diaz, author of Postcolonial Love Poem
About Dear Diaspora
Dear Diaspora is an unapologetic reckoning with history, memory, and grief. Parting the weeds on a small American town, this collection sheds light on the intersections of girlhood and diaspora. The poems introduce us to Suzi: ripping her leg hairs out with duct tape, praying for ecstasy during Sunday mass, dreaming up a language for buried familial trauma and discovering that such a language may not exist. Through a collage of lyric, documentary, and epistolary poems, we follow Suzi as she untangles intergenerational grief and her father’s disappearance while climbing trees to stare at the color green and wishing that she wore Lucy Liu’s freckles.
Winner of the Raz/Shumaker Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry, Dear Diaspora scrutinizes our turning away from the trauma of our past and our complicity in its erasure. Suzi, caught between enjoying a rundown American adolescence and living with the inheritances of war, attempts to unravel her own inherited grief as she explores the multiplicities of identity and selfhood against the backdrop of the Vietnamese diaspora. In its deliberate interweaving of voices, Dear Diaspora explores Suzi’s journey while bringing to light other incarnations of the refugee experience.
About Susan Nguyen
Susan Nguyen hails from Virginia but currently lives and writes in the desert. She earned her MFA in Poetry from Arizona State University, where she won the Aleida Rodriguez Memorial Prize and fellowships from the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing. In 2018, PBS NewsHour named her one of “three women poets to watch.” Her work appears in diagram, Tin House, and elsewhere. Her debut collection, Dear Diaspora, won the 2020 Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry. Visit her at www.susanpoet.com.
About Felicia Zamora
Felicia Zamora is a poet, educator, and editor currently living in OH. She is the author of six books of poetry including: I Always Carry My Bones, winner of the 2020 Iowa Poetry Prize released from the University of Iowa Press in April 2021, Quotient forthcoming from Tinderbox Editions in 2021, Body of Render, winner of the 2018 Benjamin Saltman Award from Red Hen Press (2020), Instrument of Gaps (Slope Editions, 2018), & in Open, Marvel (Parlor Press, 2018), and Of Form & Gather, winner of the 2016 Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize (University of Notre Dame Press). She’s received fellowships and residencies from CantoMundo, Ragdale Foundation, PLAYA, Moth Magazine, and Noepe Center at Martha’s Vineyard, authored two chapbooks, won the 2019 Wabash Prize for Poetry and the 2015 Tomaž Šalamun Prize, and was the 2017 Poet Laureate of Fort Collins, CO. Her poems and essays are found or forthcoming in AGNI, Alaska Quarterly Review, Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day, American Poetry Review, Boston Review online, Georgia Review, Guernica, Literary Hub, Missouri Review Poem-of-the-Week, Orion, POETRY, Poetry Daily, Poetry International, Prairie Schooner, The Nation, and others. She is an assistant professor of poetry at the University of Cincinnati and is the associate poetry editor for the Colorado Review.
About Mai Der Vang
Mai Der Vang is the author of Yellow Rain (Graywolf Press, 2021), and Afterland (Graywolf Press, 2017), winner of the 2016 Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets, longlisted for the 2017 National Book Award in Poetry, and a finalist for the 2018 Kate Tufts Discovery Award. The recipient of a Lannan Literary Fellowship, she served as a Visiting Writer at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her poetry has appeared in Poetry, Tin House, the American Poetry Review, among other journals and anthologies. Her essays have been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, espnW, and elsewhere. Mai Der also co-edited How Do I Begin: A Hmong American Literary Anthology with the Hmong American Writers’ Circle. A Kundiman fellow, Mai Der has completed residencies at Civitella Ranieri and Hedgebrook. Born and raised in Fresno, California, she earned degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University. She teaches in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Fresno State.