Refugee Worldmaking: Canada and the Afterlives of the Vietnam War : Forum Spotlight

Worlds Lost and Found: on the Poetics of Hoa Nguyen



Y-Dang Troeung, Bronwen Tate, Claire Farley, Fred Wah, Joseph Ianni, Kim Jacobs-Beck, Michael Cavuto, Paul Tran, Stephen Collis, and Sydney Van To


Forum Abstract

Hoa Nguyen is the author of several books of poetry including Red Juice: Poems 1998-2008 and Violet Energy Ingots, which was nominated for a Griffin Poetry Prize in 2017. Her 2021 book, A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure, is a poetic meditation on historical, personal, and cultural pressures pre- and post-“Fall-of-Saigon” with a verse biography featuring the poet’s mother, Diệp Anh Nguyễn, a stunt motorcyclist in an allwomen Vietnamese circus troupe. She teaches at Ryerson University (which is currently in the process of changing its name), in Miami University’s low residency MFA program, in the Milton Avery School for Fine Arts at Bard College, and in her own long-running private poetics workshop. Her poetry has been recognized with a 2019 Neustadt International Prize for Literature nomination and a Pushcart Prize. Born in the Mekong Delta and raised and educated in the US, Hoa lives in Tkaronto with her family.


Y-Dang Troeung is a mother, researcher, writer, and Assistant Professor in the Department of English Language and Literatures at the University of British Columbia. She is also a 2020/2021 Wall Scholar at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies. Y-Dang grew up in a small town in Southwestern Ontario, Canada. She lived in Hong Kong for six years before beginning her position at UBC in 2018. As a graduate student, she published her first scholarly essay in Canadian Literature in 2010 and is now happy to be affiliated with the journal as an Associate Editor.

Worlds Lost and Found: on the Poetics of Hoa Nguyen

Bronwen Tate is the author of the poetry collection The Silk the Moths Ignore (Inlandia Institute 2021), National Winner of the Hillary Gravendyk Prize. Midwinter Constellation, a poetry collaboration, is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press. A citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, Bronwen earned an MFA in Literary Arts from Brown University and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Stanford University. Her poems and essays have appeared in publications including CV2, Bennington Review, The Rumpus, and Contemporary Literature. Bronwen teaches poetry, creative nonfiction, and creative writing pedagogy in the School of Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia.

Sounding the Archive

Claire Farley is a doctoral candidate in English Literature at the University of Ottawa. Her research focuses on contemporary documentary poetics in North America. She is the co-founder of Canthius magazine.

Ghost in the Nerve: Hoa Nguyen’s Sonic Archive

Fred Wah studied music and English literature at the University of British Columbia in the early 1960s, where he was one of the founding editors of the poetry newsletter TISH. His past works include Diamond Grill (1996), a biofiction about growing up in a small-town Chinese-Canadian café, and High Muck a Muck: Playing Chinese, An Interactive Poem, available online ( Recent books include is a door (2009), Scree: The Collected Earlier Poems 1962-1991, and beholden: a poem as long as the river, a collaboration with Rita Wong (2018). Music at the Heart of Thinking was published by Talonbooks Fall 2020.

Dear Hoa

Jo Ianni is an independent student of contemporary poetics as well as an artist who works with poetry.

In the Living Room with Hoa

Kim Jacobs-Beck is Professor of English at the University of Cincinnati Clermont College, where she teaches British literature and composition. She is the author of a chapbook, Torch (Wolfson Press). Her reviews can be found in Constant Critic/Fence, The Rumpus, Los Angeles Review, Gigantic Sequins, Crab Creek Review, Barrelhouse, Drunk Monkeys, anddrizzle review, among others. Some of her poems can be found in West Trestle Review, Nixes Mate, Gyroscope, Apple Valley Review, SWWIM Every Day, and roam literature, among others. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Milk & Cake Press.

Hoa Nguyen’s “Languageless” Poetics

Michael Cavuto is a poet and doctoral candidate in the English Department at Duke University whose research interests involve transcultural modern and contemporary poetics in the American hemisphere. His first book, Country Poems, was published in 2020 by Knife Fork Book, Toronto. After six years in New York City working closely with visual artists, he recently relocated to Durham, North Carolina. With Dale Smith and Hoa Nguyen, he edits the Slow Poetry in America Newsletter, a regular pamphlet series featuring one poet per issue. Along with the poet Tessa Bolsover, he publishes small-run chapbooks and broadsides through auric press.

A Note on Hoa Nguyen’s Diasporic Lyric

Paul Tran is the author of the debut poetry collection, All the Flowers Kneeling, forthcoming from Penguin in February 2022. Their work appears in The New Yorker, The Nation, Best American Poetry, and elsewhere. A recipient of the Discovery/Boston Review Poetry Prize, as well as fellowships from the Poetry Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts, Paul is a Visiting Faculty in Poetry at Pacific University MFA in Writing and a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University.

A Lighthouse to Shore: Patterning and Lyric Discovery in Hoa Nguyen’s Poetry

Stephen Collis is a poet, editor, and professor. His many books of poetry include The Commons, On the Material (awarded the BC Book Prize for Poetry), To the Barricades, and (with Jordan Scott) DECOMP. He has also written two books of literary criticism, a book of essays on the Occupy movement, and a novel. In 2014 he was sued for $5.6 million by US energy giant Kinder Morgan, whose lawyers read his writing in court as “evidence,” and in 2015 he was awarded the Nora and Ted Sterling Prize in Support of Controversy. His forthcoming book is Once in Blockadia; he lives near Vancouver, on unceded Coast Salish Territory, and teaches poetry and poetics at Simon Fraser University.

On Daring and Hoa Nguyen’s Seriality

Sydney Van To is a PhD student in the Department of English at UC Berkeley, with research interests in Asian American literature, critical refugee studies, and crime fiction. He was the co-founder of The Foundationalist and is currently the deputy editor of diaCRITICS. He has a forthcoming chapter titled “Refugee Noir” in the Routledge Handbook of Refugee Narratives.

Altars and Archives

Canadian Literature issue 246, Refugee Worldmaking: Canada and the Afterlives of the Vietnam War, is available to order through our online store at