Notes on Hoa Nguyen - Your Ancient See Through, subpress, 2002
Daring and modest work. Each poem spirals out from a central pivot - an idea, a memory.
There's a mercurial quality here - the rhythms are gently undeniable - sound rhythms but also image and idea rhythms that are both cut up and flowing. Much craft but not flying the craft flag high.
The poems build up in small counterpointing layers.
Divulging / hiding.
The particular image details are sharp - intimate and odd micro-levels of detail are put to use both as biographical representation (childhood or childhood-like memory material) and as things to think with.
Great use of negative qualities - cowardice, creepines, unfairness, selfishness, smugness, interacting openly with all the other elements. Nada Gordon does this too, but on the carnivalesque side of the street.
The work resonates with the great relaxed reductionist poetry traditions - Ted Berrigan (sonnets) and Ted Greenwald (Common Sense). Some Bernadette Mayer (in that it's unabashedly insisting on the qualities and mechanisms of personality, not just relying on affect). Rae Armantrout meets Nick Drake?
Food / everyday bodily stuff.
Like some Olson processes in places? Self exploration (and exploration of subject matter) vs. or in collaboration with dramatic hiding (and interfering with subject matter)- like an Emily Dickinson process in this respect. Also - using awkwardness as a positive creative factor in the poem.
Consistently strong throughout the book.
The clear, subtle absurdities.