Hoa Nguyen | “Poem”

I call upon a poem as a gathering of language that includes the poet and poetry, that includes the dead, that includes readers present and imagined. 

Occasions for language that can accept the unknowable, poems trace distance.

Poems traverse thought and perception as they mark, make and unmake, and take place in dialogue, much as the colour of water is a reference to sky and earth as it forms an expression of “blue.” 

I think of a poem as containing the potential for seriality, that is, the many; poems as potential to create without possession. Poems complicate meaning, image, and tone as they reposition language. Poems unbind reference. 

Serious play and ugly beauty, poems paradox. 

Poems poem with difference and repetition, with visible variation, are frames that move and reframe. They are places of quotation and intertextuality. Poems can feature obscured histories and discourses or invoke the oldest stories we know. 

Poems assemble acts of attention and trouble the subject/object separation of Western philosophy and worldview. 

Hologrammatic, poems are sourced in memory, speech, and books. They draw upon language held in commons and attend to folk and pop culture. Poems elaborate, borrow, and recycle. Poems place alongside, express language’s performative possibilities, create coherences. 

Poems move inside architectures of meaning.

Poems conjure worlds, relate to mythic imagination, create new psychogeographies, and define and redefine spatial relationships. The language of poetry is that of play, structurality, resonance, hey nonny nonny. 

A poem is the mutability of language in motion.

Poems are acts of composition and decomposition. With a poem we can shape story into new relationships and new meanings. Poems make solid a narrative not possible before, where the real may be attached to words or image as relational. 

Poems enrich perspectives. Poems can move directionally from inside out, from outside in, can declare a way out, allow passage, release form. 

Poems can speak the unsaid and silenced. 

Poems can suppose against, oppose ownership, claim uncertainty, and hold space against concepts of mastery. Poems can language relationships as navigational information. 

Poems perceive cosmologically. 

 


Hoa Nguyen’s “Poem” is published in Issue 3.47: 50th Anniversary Issue 2/3 (Summer 2022). Order the issue here to read this piece and many more! 

Never miss an issue

Get a subscription to three issues per year. Cancel anytime.

Donate to TCR

Support one of Canada's longest-standing publishers of contemporary writing and art

Advertise in TCR

Download our media kit to find pricing and specifications