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.

May 2022 Poet: SUSAN NGUYEN


I am learning how to hold grief
in my mouth. Something alive

until it isn't. Like a field is a field
until it isn't, until it is just the color green.

Listen when I tell you how a field
folds into a clover when I am on my hands,

how the memory of what I am looking
for is not as important as the ground

it claims. I don't mean that grief
can be unalive. Or that I keep it loaded

in that place between lower lip
and teeth. I mean I never walked the land

where my father harvested seeds.
In his field, he waited for green

to bend into gold. A single blade
splitting light until there was nothing else.

My father remembers. I watch my shadow.


Dear Diaspora, University of Nebraska Press, 2021

Poet Bio

Susan Nguyen hails from Virginia but currently lives and writes in Arizona. She earned her MFA in Poetry from Arizona State University, where she won the Aleida Rodriguez Memorial Prize and fellowships from the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing. Her poems have been nominated for Best of the Net and a Pushcart Prize and have appeared or are forthcoming in The Rumpus, Tin House, Diagram, and elsewhere. She is an alum of Tin House Winter & Summer Workshops and Idyllwild Writers Week. Her debut collection, Dear Diaspora, won the 2020 Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry and was published by the University of Nebraska Press in September 2021. She is currently the Senior Editor of Hayden’s Ferry Review. Follow her on Twitter @suz_poet and on Instagram @r_u_ok_suzan.

To learn more about Susan Nguyen, visit her website.