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A rhapsodic exploration of immigration, race, and class by Vietnamese American phenom and National Poetry Slam star Bao Phi.
Dynamic and eye-opening, this debut by a National Poetry Slam finalist critiques an America sleepwalking through its days and explores the contradictions of race and class in America.
From “Prince Among Men”
When it feels like no one
lets you live
at your own volume
If you see Bao Phi coming, you better do a gut check, and set your motherboard to receive. Anyone who has been lucky enough to experience his work knows he means to re-adjust our minds, unseat our comfortable assumptions, and teach our hearts to weep and sing. He is our grief-stricken brother howling, moaning, and wailing in remembrance of those who suffer because of inadequate representation. He is our ecstatic shaman, manifesting through his work the oldest sources of passion, imagination, and cosmic joy. Sông I Sing is a gift. Thank you, Bao Phi.
– Li-Young Lee
“Bao Phi and Ed Bok Lee… comprise a local vanguard of Asian American literature, as poetic in their demolishing of stereotypes as they are determined.”
— Minnesota Monthly, Artists We Love in the Fall 2011 Arts Preview
“Sông I Sing will cleanse and free your mind; it is an American original. Phi’s voice is singularly strong, rhythmic and rooted in the particularities of the Vietnamese American experience, in the urgencies of hip-hop and the cold raw edge of the poet’s urban Midwestern roots, where being a ‘colored boy’ makes finding the rainbow almost impossible.”
— David Mura
“Phi knows tenderness. Isn’t bruised flesh tender? He knows love, too – it is ‘like a brick through glass: / first a riot / then fire / then nothing.’ This explosive collection mourns their proximity to hate and insists we all do better, including Phi, himself. That’s the jagged song he sings til his throat goes raw.”
— Douglas Kearney
“Jagged yet tender, Bao Phi’s poetry mixes rough-edged critiques of racism and imperialism with resolute optimism in the power of love and community. Deeply grounded in Asian American Studies, it eloquently calls for the forging of new ties and lives out of the ruins of America’s ‘war zones’ — both here in urban America and in Southeast Asia.”
— Yen Le Espiritu
“Bao Phi is a careful observer and a sweeping documentarist, the bard of Vietnamese America. In Sông I Sing he paints vivid portraits of the pride, pain, and perseverance of a people. A remarkable debut from a sure and important voice.”
— Jeff Chang