All the Flowers Kneeling (Penguin Poets) (Paperback)

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“Paul Tran’s debut collection of poems is indelible, this remarkable voice transforming itself as you read, eventually transforming you.” —Alexander Chee, author of How to Write an Autobiographical Novel

“A stunning debut.” —Natasha Trethewey, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and author of Memorial Drive
A profound meditation on physical, emotional, and psychological transformation in the aftermath of imperial violence and interpersonal abuse, from a poet both “tender and unflinching” (Khadijah Queen)

Visceral and astonishing, Paul Tran's debut poetry collection All the Flowers Kneeling investigates intergenerational trauma, sexual violence, and U.S. imperialism in order to radically alter our understanding of freedom, power, and control. In poems of desire, gender, bodies, legacies, and imagined futures, Tran’s poems elucidate the complex and harrowing processes of reckoning and recovery, enhanced by innovative poetic forms that mirror the nonlinear emotional and psychological experiences of trauma survivors. At once grand and intimate, commanding and deeply vulnerable, All the Flowers Kneeling revels in rediscovering and reconfiguring the self, and ultimately becomes an essential testament to the human capacity for resilience, endurance, and love.

About the Author

Paul Tran received their BA in history from Brown University and MFA in poetry from Washington University in St. Louis, where they were the chancellor’s graduate fellow and senior poetry fellow. They have been awarded a 2021 Fellowship in Literature from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation and the Discovery/Boston Review Poetry Prize. Currently a Wallace Stegner fellow at Stanford University, Paul’s work appears in The New Yorker, Poetry, and elsewhere.

Praise For…

Advance praise for All the Flowers Kneeling:

“[Tran] tell[s] hard truths with clarity while exploring the legacy of American imperialism and the effects of sexual violence on the body, mind, and imagination . . . Tran’s poems are curious and searching, especially as they wrestle with the contradictions of trauma recovery . . . These poems embody a spirit of inquiry in their forms, too, many of which are Tran’s own. Each provides a unique doorway into the subject matter . . . These searingly honest, beautifully told depictions of survival and self-love will move and challenge readers.”
Publishers Weekly 

“Paul Tran’s debut collection of poems is indelible, this remarkable voice transforming itself as you read, eventually transforming you. I felt at times a passenger, a ghost, implicated, consumed, and ultimately delivered back to myself, renewed.”
—Alexander Chee, author of How to Write an Autobiographical Novel

“In All the Flowers Kneeling, Paul Tran writes from that most essential of places: the threshold. Between grief and love, past and future, trauma and luminous survival, these are searching, generous poems that enact the resilience of the human spirit, how the art of language making—story, truth telling—allows us not only to survive but thrive. This is a stunning debut.”
—Natasha Trethewey, author of Thrall
Ravishing was the word that came to my mind the first time I read Paul Tran’s impressive debut collection—Ravishing, as in gorgeous; ravishing, as in carried away; to ravish: to drag off by force; to plunder. All the Flowers Kneeling is an extended investigation into what William James called traumata, ‘thorns in the spirit,’ and Tran is our compassionate, exacting, guide: ‘By my own / Invention, I found a way. I’m no artifact. Between art and fact: I.’ Formally inventive, psychologically acute, unafraid to address the complex dynamics of relational trauma both inherited and experienced, Tran’s debut demonstrates the capacity of poetry to tell the truths which will set you free.”
—Dana Levin, author of Banana Palace
“All The Flowers Kneeling is a gorgeous debut that names and resists the difficult chiasmus of trauma. Out of violences intimate and imperial, out of survival and self-fashioning, Paul Tran sculpts new forms to contain all. This book is a richness. What a stellar poet for our day.”
—Solmaz Sharif, author of

“‘Who / can deter- / mine what’s inside / another? What is risked / when we enter?’ asks Paul Tran in their masterful debut All the Flowers Kneeling, an elegant meditation on many things—history, inheritance, language, trauma, how the self tricks the self, defiance—but maybe especially about penetration in its doubleness, both as violation and as relentless inquiry, an insistence on knowing. In poems as virtuosic in their thinking as in their prosodic inventiveness, Tran interrogates meaning itself. Do suffering and knowing go together—must they? Can a story about surviving be the same as a story about love? ‘Wasn’t the word for injury the same in Vietnamese as the word for love?’ Do we survive the past, or merely leave it behind? The gift of these poems lies in their heroic refusal to accept—or indeed to offer up—the usual, too-easy answers. ‘A poem is a mirror / I use to look / not at but into myself. / My story. / Mystery.’ All the Flowers Kneeling maps the journey past bewilderment, to knowing, to, finally, the mystery of unknowing, where history falls away, where—bravely, stripped equally of regret and apology—the life we get to choose for ourselves begins.”
—Carl Phillips, author of Pale Colors in a Tall Field

Product Details
ISBN: 9780143136842
ISBN-10: 0143136844
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: February 8th, 2022
Pages: 112
Language: English
Series: Penguin Poets