All the Flowers Kneeling

Penguin Pr. (Penguin Poets). Feb. 2022. 112p. ISBN 9780143136842. pap. $18. POETRY
This much-anticipated debut from Tran (the first Asian American since 1993 and the first transgender poet ever to win the Nuyorican Poets Café Grand Slam) investigates American imperialism, sexual assault, intergenerational trauma, and the complexities of trauma recovery. The multi-part poem “Scheherazade/Scheherazade” explores the idea that in order to survive, victims must tell the story of their survival, and the poems here relating these stories are breathtaking, thought-provoking, and fearlessly honest, encapsulating tumultuous lows that will make readers shudder. In “Galileo,” the speaker says, “I, too, had been taken apart./ I didn’t want to be/fixed. I wanted everything dismantled and useless/ like me.” While this pain is vividly captured, there is also an undercurrent of strength and perseverance within the voices, as evidenced in “Bioluminescence”: “So far below, so far/ away from the rest of life, the terrestrial made possible by and thereby/ dependent upon light, I did what I had to do. I stalked. I killed./ I wanted to feel in my body my body at work, working to stay/ alive.”
VERDICT Readers will be sure to find connection and refuge within Tran’s standout collection. Highly recommended for all collections.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing