OPN Diana Khoi Nguyen

In Diana Khoi Nguyen’s “Root Fractures,” readers are invited on a poignant journey through the intricate layers of familial history, loss, and resilience.

As a finalist for the National Book Award, Nguyen’s second poetry collection stands as a testament to her exceptional talent in weaving together the threads of personal experience and collective memory into emotional depth and resonance.

At its core, “Root Fractures” unearths the haunting narratives of a family scarred by upheaval. Drawing from her own heritage as a daughter of Vietnamese immigrants, Nguyen traces the contours of her familial relationships, from her mother’s courageous escape from Saigon in the aftermath of its fall, to her father’s quest for a new beginning in America, and her brother’s painful act of self-erasure from their shared history.

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Beauty of imperfection

What distinguishes Nguyen’s collection is her fearless exploration of human vulnerability. With a lyricism that is both haunting and luminous, she peels back the layers of her own wounds, inviting readers to bear witness to the raw and unfiltered emotions that define her family’s story.

Through her poetry, she creates a space for dialogue and introspection, urging readers to confront their own histories of trauma and loss.

In “Root Fractures”, Nguyen navigates the shattered fragments of her family’s legacy, infusing each verse with a grace that transcends mere tragedy.

Like the ancient Japanese art of kintsugi, which celebrates the beauty of imperfection by filling the cracks in pottery with gold, Nguyen’s poetry imbues her family’s narrative with a resplendent glow, reminding us of the inherent strength of human spirit.

Scars of the past 

Moreover, “Root Fractures” offers a timely exploration of the intergenerational reverberations of trauma. Nguyen examines the ways in which the scars of the past continue to shape and define the present, illuminating the connections that bind generations together.

Her poetry serves as a reminder of the importance of bearing witness to the stories of those who came before us, and of the profound impact that our own actions and choices can have on future generations.

With its exquisite language, deep insights, and unwavering honesty, this collection stands as a masterful work of art that demands to be read, savoured, and cherished for years to come.

Through her poetry, Nguyen, one of the best poets of our times, invites us to embark on a journey of self-discovery and healing.

Ahmad Nazir is a UAE based freelance writer