Winner of the Omnidawn Open Poetry Book Prize, Ghost Of is a mourning song. 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.
In any great poetry, the white space is as inflected as the text, and Nguyen has crafted a book wherein the white space is so inflected it seems to vibrate ... Nguyen’s book feels populated not so much by 'experimental' poetry as by poetry that is shaped by suffering; the poems are the exact shape they have to be to accommodate, and attempt to bear, the weight of tragedy ... So much of the genius of this book is also in the candor ... Nguyen is not attempting to control that shifting but rather acknowledge its power. The book can feel like a private exercise, as if we are watching the speaker’s effort toward accommodating the shapes loss carves into her life. It is as if, at times, we are not even her reader, that the book would exist without our gaze.
Haunting, incisive, and exceptionally spare, Nguyen’s shape-shifting poems confront death, displacement, and the emptiness within and around us ... Nguyen also employs incantatory repetition to chilling effect ... A soaring tribute, a mesmerizing visual feat, and an all-around astonishing debut.