Monday, March 13, 2006

Recommendation: Hoa & Dale at the Poetry Project March 15th 

Hoa Nguyen & Dale Smith
March 15, 2006

St. Mark's Church
131 East 10th Street (@ Second Avenue)
$8/$7 students + seniors/$5 members
www.poetryproject.com | info@poetryproject.com

If you can get to the Poetry Project on Wednesday night you should go to see poets Hoa Nguyen and Dale Smith read.

Among other things, Hoa and Dale are the editors of the hand-painted and carefully edited magazine Skanky Possum (Austin, TX). Certain editions of the beautiful magazine are already collector's items. However, it's their poems and poetry, which I love most. Here are some of my thoughts on their distinct and engaging work.


Hoa Nguyen uses pulverized phrases as if they were not pulverized but their own new wholes. In title poem of Nguyen’s book Your Ancient See-Through (selected and edited by Anselm Berrigan for Subpress in 2002), she explores a historical continuum reaching backward and forward between fragments and selves. Nguyen writes :

You have your ancient see through

ways Stars sustain their axis

Orion listing like gallows

for my creepy life the pieces

of our ascending selves


Dale Smith is the author of a handful of small press books and many of those are book-length poems. One book I wrote about is his collection American Rambler. The diction and impulse of American Rambler is epic in nature. The book is a serious and fractured long poem centered on the disastrous and revealing decade, from 1527 to about 1537, that Spanish explorer Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca spent in what is now Texas and southwestern US.

In 2005 Smith published a lovely 5x5 inch book called Notes No Answer from Habenich Press. Here is the opening poem of Smith's engaging collection:

Should I assist or
desist, resist
or insist,
persist or exist
in status
quo stasis?

The book-length poem is filled with natural-breathing two to five line stanzas, moving forward question-by-question for 48 pages in an edgy, playful, and smart progression.

Here is a good interview with Smith from HERE COMES EVERYBODY: Writers on Writing.

--Tom Devaney

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