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Two BOA books reviewed by Pleiades

The latest issue of Pleiades includes fantastic new reviews of Nguyen Phan Que Mai’s The Secret of Hoa Sen and Sean Thomas Dougherty’s All You Ask for Is Longing.

On The Secret of Hoa Sen: “The translating team of [Bruce] Weigl and Nguyen has pro­duced a volume that embodies the tension between the United States and Vietnam, while maintaining sympathy for both sides of the conflict. . . . Happily, The Secret of Hoa Sen includes English and Viet­namese versions of the poems and the presence of both reinforces the collection’s recurring theme— that of two cultures pressed against each other. . . . Like a lullaby, The Secret of Hoa Sen acknowledges our collective pain by looking at it head on. Nguyen does not sooth over old wounds, but she does break down the painfulness of the past by suggesting the journey back can offer a chance at redemption.”

On All You Ask for Is Longing: "Dougherty celebrates a pivotal (if symbolic) touchstone. For more than two decades Dougherty has maintained a unique place in contemporary poetry by honoring the ghost notes of our everyday life. The breadth of this selected collection charts the development of Dougherty’s career and examines our conflated assumptions of race, class, and the urban experience. . . . Yehuda Amichai, the great Israeli poet, was famously quoted as saying that 'all poetry is political,' implying that even the most apolitical, interior lyric reflects the historical moment of its author. Sean Thomas Dougherty bares this torch with distinction. His work, however personal, can also serve as a kind of historical record; the heart inside the heart of urban America. The political realities of our time are evoked on every page, whether or not Dougherty calls them out by name. Rather, it is the canvas backdrop of an extended portrait spanning two decades of indelible poetry."

Both titles are available at the BOA Bookstore.

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