THE HOUSE I INHERIT
The House I Inherit incites riots reflecting on imperialism, war, migration, and grief through family dynamics. By thinking about how families perpetuate oppression, Vuong finds a way to healing and love, indeed showing readers the interconnectedness of our systems, histories, and supposedly private spheres. Interested in the building and breaking down of form, voice, and silence, this collection risks difficult truths to create a new way of being.
While for many of us grief is often too abstract a thing to behold, Vuong’s The House I Inherit captures it in its most present and to-the-bone form. In three parts, this careful and tender collection takes us through a father’s violence and the inheritance of trauma, attempts to redraw the self from this pain, and shows us a door through which we can reconcile our “artifacts of grief.” While the history of the Vietnam War, imperialism, and familial trauma each demand their own resounding narrative, The House I Inherit proposes the radical notion that silence can be both needle and thread, weaving together these narratives into a resonant whole. Vuong movingly writes, “everything not uttered carries/ a weight/ a life/ its own/ gathering speed.” These lines, as well as the poems within this book, are balm for anyone looking for a collection that believes that the quietest (and most resilient) gestures can accrue, suture, and someday heal us.
– Muriel Leung, author of Bone Confetti
The poems in this astonishing debut comprise a triptych consisting of altars, doors, and the Janus-like self-portraits which confront the past, legacy of war, and thresholds of love, heartbreak, and resilience. The House I Inherit offers to us the world we have wrecked through strife, silence, and violence. Here, ghosts love and lurk alike. Here “ghosts [who] do not follow borders” coexist with figures who are “so good / at surviving.” Vuong adroitly captures the dysfunction of immigrant families and “wounding of whole homes” while remaining open and steely to both familial and romantic loves. The result is tender, deft, and calmly urgent: this is an offering at the altar of a home which has no borders.
– Diana Khoi Nguyen, author of Ghost Of
This poetry articulates the hard things; the broken things; the beautiful, healing, loving things. This poetry piercingly reflects humanity back to itself. I am grateful to Phuong T. Vuong, for this poetry – which is so desperately needed, today more than ever.
– Sharon Bridgforth, 2016 Doris Duke Performing Artist, author of loveconjure/blues and other books