As Long As Trees Last
As Long As Trees Last
By Hoa Nguyen
It’s not a time to run
I wear soft shoes
and it took a long time
to walk here
Grounded in the present tense—in the dailiness of politics and domesticity, citizenship and femaleness—Nguyen’s loose, everyday language performs a hook and snare on the ungraspable reality of 21st-century America. In the nearly egoless space of these chiseled yet spacious poems, an extraordinarily clear-eyed poet claims her stakes.
The poems in Nguyen’s third book of poetry are spare and often short, but present an openness that allows the reader to luxuriate in the sensory details of the everyday.
Nguyen is a master of the poetic line, a distinction considerably rarer in these times than it ought to be. As Long As Trees Last insists on the materiality and weight of each word, not merely as a function of Nguyen's evidently dextrous enjambment but also her impressionistic lexicon—one that communicates emotion through the atmospherics of grammar as well as the dialectics of performative speech...Nguyen makes poetry that sticks in the heart and the craw.
Seth Abramson, Huffington Post
This is a Book of Apocalypse both personal and collective, a collection of fractured lyrics that hear “the half-animal / half-unreal song in the leaves / of your gaze,” equally adept at channeling Dickinson for anachronistic commentary on Agent Orange (“The Zeroes—taught us—Phosphorous”) as at invoking the Mayan Lady Xoc to join us in the here and now.
Timothy Liu, Coldfront
Mekong Delta–born Hoa Nguyen’s As Long As Trees Last gives an up-to-the-minute, street-smart take on being alive in the 21st century.
Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
The title of Hoa Nguyen’s third full-length collection, As Long As Trees Last, neatly condenses one of her finest skills as a poet—a knack for rendering our certainties uncertain. What our lives permit us to perceive as givens, Nguyen reveals as mere conditions, inextricably tied to and guided by greater forces—from the economy to the environment, from the Mayan predictions to the menstrual cycle, from the weight of history to the burden of the future.
Michael Brodeur, The Boston Globe
Nguyen remains one of the most powerful, vivid, and even visceral contemporary poets working today. Readers hoping for a thought-provoking and and strikingly familiar exploration of life in 21st century America will find As Long As Trees Last to be a compelling and often moving collection.
Dan Shewan, The Rumpus
...As Long as Trees Last is Nguyen’s tremendous symphony. Living with it these months since its release by Wave Books has been a constant pleasure, one that encourages itself as well as the life of the reader to be one of effulgence and grace.
Christopher Kondrich, Jacket2
Hoa Nguyen, similar to Louis Zukofsky—another poet whose work indelibly again and again proves the apt suitability of the term when intended as sincere compliment and appropriately applied—deserves the title of A Poet’s Poet...Her work exists in a timeless flow of language and song...
Patrick James Dunagan, New Pages
Hoa Nguyen puts her ear to the ordinary and hears strange and disconcerting overtones. Unpunctuated, pieced together from fragments yet self-contained, they seem cut from the same cloth. Nguyen wants to touch a nerve but not always by way of explicit meaning.
Barry Schwabsky, Hyperallergic
Easy to spot, but not to pin down, these lithe poems make its chinaberry trees, children, birds, magic words, appropriated language, wind, and drought cover wide territory. Nguyen’s poems may be small, the longest of which spans across two pages, but they span from Valentine’s Day 2010 to the Maya Queen consort Lady Xoc; immense pressure from such short lines. It could be called an echo-poetics—for its heavy repetition—and an eco-poetics.
Thom Sullivan, Flying Object
Hoa Nguyen is the author of several books of poetry, including A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure (Wave Books, 2021), the winner of the Canada Book Award and a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, National Book Award and the Governor General’s Literary Award; As Long As Trees Last; Red Juice; and Violet Energy Ingots, which received a 2017 Griffin Prize nomination. Recipient of a 2019 Pushcart Prize and a 2020 Neustadt International Prize for Literature nomination, her writing has garnered attention from such outlets as The PBS News Hour, Granta, The Walrus, New York Times, CBC Books, and Poetry, among others. Born in the Mekong Delta and raised and educated in the United States, Nguyen has lived in Tkaronto since 2011.
Publication Date: September 4, 2012
ISBN#9781933517612 (5.5X8.25 88pp, paperback and limited edition hardcover)