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.
Duy Doan is a Kundiman Fellow whose poetry has appeared in
Poetry, Slate, TriQuarterly, and elsewhere. He received an MFA in Poetry from Boston University.
Carl Phillips is the award-winning author of twelve books of poetry. His most recent work is the poetry collection
Reconnaissance. This is his seventh year as judge of the Yale Series of Younger Poets.