cover image Violet Energy Ingots

Violet Energy Ingots

Hoa Nguyen. Wave (Consortium, dist.), $18 trade paper (104p) ISBN 978-1-940696-34-8

In her first book of new work since Red Juice: Poems 1998–2008, Nguyen further develops her impactful, complex, and lyrical style. Nguyen’s poems blend startling imagery with a calming sense of stasis. Her work has been described as a feminist ecopoetics, the basis of which can be seen in moments of subtle fascination with the natural world. This naturalist preoccupation appears woven throughout, as when she writes, “Violets you can eat/ day/night How to curl trees Leave them// Pine swung oak aloof.” Nguyen’s simple, colloquial syntax often belies the energy and ingenuity of her work. In these new poems, Nguyen seems especially immersed in her own process and in the essence of writing, engaged with the “root of the words/ not the fucking use/ made purposed and stupid.” Repeatedly, she interrupts a poem to insert a correction: “Buffer cap/ I mean buttercup Fool.” Nguyen has no problem evading the “purposed and stupid” use of words, relying instead on sensation and sound. As a result, how and why Nguyen chooses to intertwine her words can seem inexplicable, but the poems emerge as whirlwinds of phrases and meaning that readers would never have otherwise imagined. (Sept.)