The Secret of Hoa Sen

BOA. Nov. 2014. 148p. tr. from Vietnamese by Bruce Weigl. ISBN 9781938160523. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781938160530. POETRY
Born in 1973 in Vietnam's north but raised in the south's lush delta, award-winning poet Nguyen writes precise, vibrant poems that give voice to her country's present, grounded in tradition and dark history. Guavas and mangos sometimes blossom here, but Nguyen is just as inclined to speak without overwhelming polemic of the "collapsed royal dynasties" of Vietnam and "the blood of its division bitter in our mouths." One poem, dedicated to BW—presumably poet/translator Weigl, a Pulitzer Prize finalist and Vietnam veteran—states bluntly, "He can't explain the reasons for the war." Important, especially to those still contemplating that question.
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