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Poetry magazine's January 'Reading List'

Nguyen Phan Que Mai’s The Secret of Hoa Sen was chosen for Poetry magazine's "Reading List: January 2016."

According to poet Lauren McClung, "Vietnamese poet Nguyen Phan Que Mai’s first collection in English, The Secret of Hoa Sen, translated by the poet and Vietnam War veteran Bruce Weigl, tells a woman’s story of her homeland—a place of immense beauty and generational trauma."

McClung selected the book for the reading list because of the author's ability to discuss a vast array of emotions in a short amount of space, saying, “...this poet’s song is always both praise and elegy, gratitude and longing, and the landscape—whether earth or sea—has been deeply internalized.”

The piece particularly emphasizes the connections that the book makes with the lives of women in Vietnam who have spent their lives laboring so that their families would prosper and survive. McClung praises Que Mai for her portrayal of many voices and many lives, noting “This poet, in her earthy tenderness and vivid imagery, conveys the experience of women who work the earth with their hands, and who know the deep emotional suffering of war: pregnant women who survive bombings, or women who call out for their dead children or husbands.”

She concludes: "Through the rendering of these lyrical narratives and through a careful reconstruction of her own lineage, Nguyen Phan Que Mai creates a portrait of woman that is both fractured and resilient. Perhaps through her unrelenting lullabies she finally sings the ancestors to sleep."

Click here for Poetry magazine's complete "Reading List: January 2016."

The Secret of Hoa Sen is available now at the BOA Bookstore. To celebrate BOA's 40th anniversary year, we're offering 40% off all BOA Bookstore orders through January. Use promo code BOATURNS40 at checkout to save!

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