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Ghost Of (The Omnidawn Open)

Ghost Of (The Omnidawn Open)

Before crossing the threshold of Diana Khoi Nguyen's Ghost Of, pause before the title's incomplete prepositional phrase. The ominous "of" yearns for its object but does not reach it, leaving only questions. Ghost of what? Of whom? Of where? Orbiting the devastating loss of her brother, Oliver, who cut himself out of family photos before taking his life, Nguyen incorporates her brother's self-excisions in poems that wield and articulate the negative space of the incomplete thought, the thought once removed, methodically embodying many different kinds of ghosts. Ghosts of history, of memory, of language forfeited and exiled, of the lost brother, of the grieving mother, of the diminished self. I must admit, all grief writing unnerves me for the same reason: to enter into the empty rooms of a writer's narrative—I picture Joan Didion in The Year of Magical Thinking seated in her study, recently husbandless, wondering where she, or anyone, is supposed to go from there—risks becoming immured in the architecture of another's mourning. But with Ghost Of, I spent as much time with Nguyen in her rooms as possible. I loved the book so much I didn't even care that I left it feeling a little bit haunted."

Benjamin Q.

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Author Diana Khoi Nguyen
Publisher Omnidawn
Publication Date 2018-04-03
Section Poetry / All Staff Suggestions / Fiction Suggestions / Benjamin Q.
Type New
Format Paperback
ISBN 9781632430526

Ghost Of is a mourning song, not an exorcism or un-haunting of that which haunts, but attuned attention, unidirectional reaching across time, space, and distance to reach loved ones, ancestors, and strangers. By working with, in, and around the photographs that her brother left behind (from which he cut himself out before his death), Nguyen wrestles with what remains: memory, physical voids, and her family captured around an empty space.

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