Author(s): Diana Khoi Nguyen
Ghost Of is truly a brilliant book. Amazing poetry happens inside visual innovations where "There is nothing that is not music, the pouring of water from one receptacle into another a coat of bees draped over the sack of sugar caving in on itself." Poetry is found in the gaps, silences and ruptures of history, In "An Empty House Is a Debt," the poet writes: "There is a house in me. It is empty. I empty it. / Negative space: the only native emptiness there is." These poems mean to make a song of emptiness and the spaces we house. They sing to and for the ghosts of identity exile, and history. They sing like a ghost who looks from the window or waits by the door. Lyric fills in the holes in the story. Ghost Of is unforgettable. Diana Khoi Nguyen's Ghost Of is nothing short of an extraordinary debut. At its center is the haunting disappearance of a brother, gone by suicide. These poems are uncanny renderings of an invisibility made visible by the sheer will of candor, bemused forms, agility of lexicon, and a voice, almost noiselessly extravagant. What she gives us, she takes away; nearly impossible transformations transform. "Something keeps not happening," she writes. And then she causes it to happen in a language of grief-bold and often colder than, most daring, exquisite acts. Nguyen's voice is both wraithlike and astonishingly frontal; this is one of the most gifted first books I've read. Across these pages, sound makes shapes that, in turn, shape sounds, creating a complex weave in which absence figures as vividly as presence, and in which the absent are, in fact, present-in the faces so neatly cut out of the photographs ... a haunting tribute to those we always carry with us, Nguyen's stunning first collection explores the layered losses of displacement, migration, and death in ways that take full responsibility for the particularity of each individuals experience. Written with equal parts frankness and compassion, the book radiates a very human generosity throughout. Book jacket.