Emerging BIWOC Poet Spotlight

This monthly series features poems by women of color in the early stages of their publishing careers. It is our intention to create more space at Perugia for the work of poets who are Black, Indigenous, and women of color (BIWOC). We hope using our platform to celebrate this work will expand the readership of the poets we spotlight. This series aligns with Perugia’s mission to support and promote emerging women poets; featured poems will be from poets with no more than one published full-length collection. We’d love to hear from readers with suggestions for poems & poets to feature.

October 2020 Poet: Diana Khoi Nguyen

Family Ties

Gradually a girl’s innocence itself becomes her major crime
A doe and her two fawns bent low in the sumac along the bank of a highway,
     the pinched peach of their ears twitching in the heat
Into the disordered evening my brother cut out only his face from every
     photograph in the hall, carefully slipping each frame back into position
What good does it do?
Decades of no faces other than our own chipping faces
What good does it do, this resemblance to nothing we know of the dollhouse
New parents watch their newborn resting in a sunny patch of an empty
     room, the newborn making sense of its container—
And from the road a deer ripened in death and a tuft of fur—or dandelion—
     tumbled along, gently circled, driftwood, shaking loose, gathered,
     dissolving into the mouths of jewelweed nearby
Earth is rife with iron and blood is rich in stardust
Immediately I spotted one hoof print, then nothing, as if this was where she
     dragged herself out of the body
Strips of tire torn from their orbit
Is it right then, that we are left to hurtle alone


Ghost Of, Omnidawn Publishing, 2018

Poet bio

Poet and multimedia artist Diana Khoi Nguyen was born and raised in California. She earned a BA in English and Communication Studies from UCLA, an MFA from Columbia University, and a PhD from the University of Denver. She is the author of the chaplet Unless (Belladonna*, 2019), and her debut poetry collection, Ghost Of, was selected by Terrance Hayes for Omnidawn’s Open Contest. In addition to winning the 92Y “Discovery” / Boston Review Poetry Contest, the 2019 Kate Tufts Discovery Award, and the Colorado Book Award, she was also a finalist for the National Book Award and L.A. Times Book Prize. Her poetry and prose have appeared widely in magazines and journals such as Poetry, American Poetry Review, and PEN America. She has held scholarships and fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. A Kundiman fellow, Nguyen teaches in the Randolph College Low-Residency MFA and is an Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh.

To learn more about Diana Khoi Nguyen, visit her website.