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A goal of my poetry is to explore each complicated avenue of my identity as it manifests and conflicts with another avenue, to acknowledge all the problems and joys being Vietnamese-American. I can mourn for the loss of a homeland and empathize with my mother’s loss of country at the same time I can keep in mind the South Vietnamese persecution of Buddhists.
For me, photography has been a tool for change and impact. I believe that through visual imagery and storytelling, photographers have the power to change people’s minds.
"I have been carrying this film around for over a quarter century from Hanoi to Saigon to Boston and to New York. The origin of these photographs lies in the Saigon of the early 1970s where I was a war orphan."
The “minor” characters interest me because they were, in fact, present within history and were witnesses and participants, and yet few historians have bothered to inquire into what these folks saw, felt, and understood about the world. It takes a heck more research and labor to locate the history of these so-called “minor” characters.
"Perhaps it would be clear what the impulse of “naming” could do in ways that simply writing out the words cannot. We can’t name the horror. We can trace it. We can color in the lines."
I never considered poetry as career and forever reject the corporate model to poetry. I never approached making art like that; I sought to be more like my dream: to remain a student to poetry and to be myself.