Editors Note: As any poet worth they salt knows sometimes when you're doing a 30/30 life gets in the way. Our esteemed scribe has been driving a group of unruly undergrads across country and so we've been without his glorious voice for a few days. But Danez is back like the (actual) Harlem Shake. We'll post a few a day to catch up. Keep reading. Let's get it.
Asst. Poetry Editor, Muzzle
"The night my father left,
I wet the bed. It was the first time
since being trained not to.
I was four, and everybody I loved
It’s amazing what can happen in the time it takes to blink. Stars cease to exist, babies are born, 2 kids have their first kiss, and poets grow exponentially. I had the pleasure of going to the same high school as Hieu, where we both were involved in a social justice theatre program that also had a strong background in spoken word. I remember Hieu being good, definitely one of the better 15 year olds doing their thing at the time, but when I left for college and came back 2 years later to see Hieu perform, I was not prepared for the poet he had become. Hieu seems to get better by the minute, he is a poet with a complete grasp on what what he is trying to do in his work, using his brilliant hand and voice to navigate sexuality, culture, & family in such a way that I often find myself with one hand in the air to praise the glory of his line, while the other clutches my stomach, trying to make sure that my body doesn’t come undone. Hieu, like many of the poets who are on this list, is making Patricia Smith proud. He is a poet in every sense of the word. His work seeks to do something new, even if improving upon something that has been done, and it sings brilliantly on the page, as well as it does on stage (don’t get me started on the majesty of Hieu’s performance. Simple, to the point, and not a thing un-needed or out of place). Hieu can stand up with any ‘page poet’ around, and he can also deliver his work to the air, the way poetry was intended to be. Hieu Nguyen, who will be the face you see when you google the word YES, is someone you need to get into. Do yourself a favor and go discover his work, you’ll thank me later.