By Hoa Nguyen
Publication Date: September 4, 2012
ISBN#9781933517612 (5.5X8.25 88pp, paperback and limited edition hardcover)
It’s not a time to run
I wear soft shoes
and it took a long time
to walk here
Grounded in the present tense—in the dailiness of politics and domesticity, citizenship and femaleness—Nguyen’s loose, everyday language performs a hook and snare on the ungraspable reality of 21st-century America. In the nearly egoless space of these chiseled yet spacious poems, an extraordinarily clear-eyed poet claims her stakes.
The poems in Nguyen’s third book of poetry are spare and often short, but present an openness that allows the reader to luxuriate in the sensory details of the everyday.
Nguyen is a master of the poetic line, a distinction considerably rarer in these times than it ought to be. As Long As Trees Last insists on the materiality and weight of each word, not merely as a function of Nguyen's evidently dextrous enjambment but also her impressionistic lexicon—one that communicates emotion through the atmospherics of grammar as well as the dialectics of performative speech...Nguyen makes poetry that sticks in the heart and the craw.
Seth Abramson, Huffington Post
This is a Book of Apocalypse both personal and collective, a collection of fractured lyrics that hear “the half-animal / half-unreal song in the leaves / of your gaze,” equally adept at channeling Dickinson for anachronistic commentary on Agent Orange (“The Zeroes—taught us—Phosphorous”) as at invoking the Mayan Lady Xoc to join us in the here and now.
Timothy Liu, Coldfront
Mekong Delta–born Hoa Nguyen’s As Long As Trees Last gives an up-to-the-minute, street-smart take on being alive in the 21st century.
Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
The title of Hoa Nguyen’s third full-length collection, As Long As Trees Last, neatly condenses one of her finest skills as a poet—a knack for rendering our certainties uncertain. What our lives permit us to perceive as givens, Nguyen reveals as mere conditions, inextricably tied to and guided by greater forces—from the economy to the environment, from the Mayan predictions to the menstrual cycle, from the weight of history to the burden of the future.
Michael Brodeur, The Boston Globe
Nguyen remains one of the most powerful, vivid, and even visceral contemporary poets working today. Readers hoping for a thought-provoking and and strikingly familiar exploration of life in 21st century America will find As Long As Trees Last to be a compelling and often moving collection.
Dan Shewan, The Rumpus
...As Long as Trees Last is Nguyen’s tremendous symphony. Living with it these months since its release by Wave Books has been a constant pleasure, one that encourages itself as well as the life of the reader to be one of effulgence and grace.
Christopher Kondrich, Jacket2
Hoa Nguyen, similar to Louis Zukofsky—another poet whose work indelibly again and again proves the apt suitability of the term when intended as sincere compliment and appropriately applied—deserves the title of A Poet’s Poet...Her work exists in a timeless flow of language and song...
Patrick James Dunagan, New Pages
Hoa Nguyen puts her ear to the ordinary and hears strange and disconcerting overtones. Unpunctuated, pieced together from fragments yet self-contained, they seem cut from the same cloth. Nguyen wants to touch a nerve but not always by way of explicit meaning.
Barry Schwabsky, Hyperallergic
Easy to spot, but not to pin down, these lithe poems make its chinaberry trees, children, birds, magic words, appropriated language, wind, and drought cover wide territory. Nguyen’s poems may be small, the longest of which spans across two pages, but they span from Valentine’s Day 2010 to the Maya Queen consort Lady Xoc; immense pressure from such short lines. It could be called an echo-poetics—for its heavy repetition—and an eco-poetics.
Thom Sullivan, Flying Object
Born in the Mekong Delta and raised in the Washington, D.C. area, Hoa Nguyen studied Poetics at New College of California in San Francisco where she earned an MFA. She is the author of four full-length collections of poetry including Violet Energy Ingots (Wave Books, 2016) As Long As Trees Last, Hecate Lochia (Hot Whiskey Press, 2009) and Your Ancient See Through (Subpress, 2002). Red Juice: Poems 1998-2008 was published by Wave Books in the fall of 2014. Her poetry has been collected in eight anthologies including Days I Moved Through Ordinary Sound: The Teachers of WritersCorps in Poetry and Prose (City Lights, 2009), The Best of Fence (Fence Books, 2009), For the Time Being: A Bootstrap Anthology (Bootstrap Books, 2008), Black Dog, Black Night: Contemporary Vietnamese Poetry (Milkweed Editions, 2008), and Not for Mothers Only (Fence Books, 2007). With the poet Dale Smith, Nguyen founded Skanky Possum, a small press journal of poetry and poetics. From Austin, Texas, their home of fourteen years, they published contemporary poets such as Amiri Baraka, Alice Notley, Linh Dinh, Kenward Elmslie, and Eileen Myles. In 2002, as editor of Best American Poetry, Robert Creeley selected poems by four poets that were published in issue 6 of Skanky Possum. Nguyen has been invited to perform her work, act as poet in residence, and lecture on poetry for universities, conferences and literary organizations, including, most recently, Sarah Lawrence College, Emory University, Brown University, the University of Texas at Austin, Washington State University, the Charles Olson Centenary Conference in Vancouver, Buffalo State, the Association for Asian American Studies Conference, Naropa University, and Associated Writers and Writing Programs Conferences. She currently lives in Toronto, Ontario where she curates a reading series and teaches poetics privately and at Ryerson University.
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