Ghost Of (Paperback)
In the wake of tragedy, language often fails us. The world turns, but grief keeps us tethered to the past. In Ghost Of, Diana Khoi Nguyen abandons the common vocabulary of mourning and dips into the poetics of grief logic to find understanding in the wake of her brother’s “successful suicide.” Between these moments of grief logic, Nguyen emerges from the murky depths to offer narrative that spans from her parents’ immigration to America to the present. She draws upon Gyotaku (the Japanese art of printing fish) to repetitively stamp stanzas until they fade and presents us with triptychs in which grief logic fills the spaces of family photos where her brother should be: “Into the disordered evening my brother cut out only his face from every photograph in the hall.” Equal parts musical, chilling, and perhaps even comforting, Ghost Of is an essential reading to aid in our understanding of a classic human experience.— Josh
Ghost Of is a mourning song, not an exorcism or un-haunting of that which haunts, but attuned attention, unidirectional reaching across time, space, and distance to reach loved ones, ancestors, and strangers. By working with, in, and around the photographs that her brother left behind (from which he cut himself out before his death), Nguyen wrestles with what remains: memory, physical voids, and her family captured around an empty space.
About the Author
Born in Los Angeles, DIANA KHOI NGUYEN is a poet and multimedia artist whose work has appeared widely in literary journals such as Poetry, American Poetry Review, Boston Review, PEN America, and The Iowa Review, among others. A winner of the 92Y's Discovery / Boston Review 2017 Poetry Contest, she is a PhD candidate in creative writing at the University of Denver.
"A death creates both an absence—the hole left by the departed—and a presence—the weight of that hole. Diana Khoi Nguyen’s beautiful debut collection, Ghost Of, finds myriad ways to embody this seeming paradox... The collection’s story is ultimately not just of a sister’s grief, but of a family’s, of broad loss born from the Vietnam war and deep loss born from suicide. The book’s wildly inventive forms show the power struggle anyone who has experienced great loss can understand: the attempt to find a suitable container for mourning, and the acceptance that mourning dictates the shape of everything around it."