Civitella Advisory Council Member Nam Le’s (CRF 2017) first book of poetry, 36 Ways of Writing a Vietnamese Poem, will be published with Knopf on March 5th, 2024.
In Le’s own words, this book is “a kind of unravelling. Back to fundamentals, to first principles… it wouldn’t let me dodge it. It made me deal with what I’ve been dealing with my whole life: questions of identity, and inheritance, and sincerity, and the violences of type, and who gets to claim authority over what. It’s angry and absurd and self-indicting and hopefully not unfunny– and definitely the most personal, exposing thing I’ve written.”
36 Ways is available for pre-order now at this link.
The book features blurbs from a few Civitellians.
“Each poem in 36 Ways of Writing a Vietnamese Poem stings as if Nam Le burned syllables onto the page with a pyrographic pen. These poems seethe and sing; they restlessly shapeshift as Nam Le tries to find a mode of speech or form that could capture the violent history of war and the experience of deracination. But the English language stops short and he captures that gap—and the unspeakable realms of racialized consciousness—with virtuosic and ineffable beauty.” -Cathy Park Hong (CRF 2021)
“Where do we locate meaning when we know a word can collapse in on itself at any moment, leaving just the earthy music at its core? Somehow these poems have me dancing above that sinkhole, flirting with its mayhem. Nam Le’s debut collection 36 Ways of Writing a Vietnamese Poem is, like the poet, a chimera of ferocious wit, lyricism and play. But this book is deadly serious. Le leaves no doubt that he means it. He means every word of it.” -Gregory Pardlo (CRF 2019)
Le will speak at the following in-person tour events:
Cambridge, MA / Monday March 11th at Harvard Book Store, in conversation with Wyatt Mason
New York, NY / Tuesday March 12th at McNally Jackson, in conversation with Leslie Jamison
New York, NY / Thursday March 14th at NYU, in conversation with Gregory Pardlo
Philadelphia, PA / Thursday March 14th at Philadelphia Free Library, in conversation with Airea Dee Mathews
Washington, DC / Friday March 15th at Politics & Prose
Chicago, IL / Sunday March 17th at Seminary Co-op Books, in conversation with Eula Biss
Iowa City, IA / Tuesday March 19th at Prairie Lights, joint event with Daniel Khalastchi
Portland, OR / Wednesday March 20th atPowell’s City of Books, joint event with Michael Dickman
Corte Madera, CA / Thursday March 21st at Book Passage, in conversation with Fiona McFarlane