cover image The Secret of Hoa Sen

The Secret of Hoa Sen

Nguyen Phan Que Mai, trans. from the Vietnamese by Bruce Weigl and Nguyen Phan Que Mai. BOA (Consortium, dist.), $16 trade paper (148p) ISBN 978-1-938160-52-3

Que Mai, a translator, poet, and winner of the Poetry of the Year Award from the Hanoi Writers Association (for 2010’s Freeing Myself), collaborated with poet and translator Weigl for this collection focused on the lingering physical and psychological effects of the Vietnam War. These straightforward, personal poems lament and celebrate with the landscape—the smells, colors, and people of her country—that is their touchstone: “I sing for you the highland’s waves, softening the stone shore./ I sing for you storks’ wings of the south./ I sing for you the northern sunlight’s grassy fragrance/ carrying you towards your river home.” But Nguyen also sings for the alienated orphans of the Vietnam War; for garment workers in Bangladesh; for the victims of Typhoon Bopha in the Philippines; and for mothers across the globe in perilous circumstances. “The curves of the village temple,/ the Persian lilacs’ purple,/ the sunset with low-flying stork wings,” Mai writes with a nostalgic yet detail-oriented eye. “Because I keep my homeland in my heart,/ my harvest is rich,/ all year round.” Dual-language edition. [em](Nov.) [/em]