Susan Nguyen with Cathy Linh Che
Back to it we go, after the Labor Day weekend, with this virtual poetry reading by Susan Nguyen with her award-winning debut collection, Dear Diaspora (University of Nebraska Press). Recipient of the Raz/Shumaker Prairie Schooner Book Prize, this is a powerful chronicle of reckoning with personal and collective pasts, ongoing trauma, being part of refugee diaspora.
“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.
“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.
This same Cathy Linh Che, author of the award-winning poetry collection, Split, and executive director of Kundiman, will join Susan Nguyen in conversation this evening.