Diana Khoi Nguyen & Cindy Juyoung Ok - Rootwards, Fractured and Fragmented

Wednesday, March 13, 2024 - 6:00pm

Left Bank Books presents Diana Khoi Nguyen and Cindy Juyoung Ok for a Night of Poetry. Nguyen and Ok are celebrated rising stars in the world of poetry with Nguyen being a National Book Award finalist and Ok winning the Yale Younger Poets Prize. Please join us as we discuss poetry that is fractured, fragmented, haunting, delectable, and honest. 

Nguyen and Ok will personalize and sign copies after the presentation! Personalized and signed copies will be available to be mailed anywhere in the country. For personalized copies, please order before 11:59PM on March 12th.

Join us at Left Bank Books
399 N Euclid Ave
St. Louis, MO 63108
Watch the livestream on Left Bank Books' YouTube Page



About the Authors

Poet and multimedia artist Diana Khoi Nguyen was born and raised in California. Her debut poetry collection Ghost Of was selected by Terrance Hayes for the Omnidawn Open Contest and was a finalist for the National Book Award and Los Angeles Times Book Prize. It received the 2019 Kate Tufts Discovery Award and a Colorado Book Award. A Kundiman fellow and member of the Vietnamese diasporic artist collective, She Who Has No Master(s), Nguyen's other honors include awards from the 92Y "Discovery" Poetry Contest, Key West Literary Seminars, and Academy of American Poets. She teaches creative writing at Randolph College Low-Residency MFA and is an Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh.

Cindy Juyoung Ok writes, edits, and teaches poetry.


About Root Fractures

*One of LitHub's Poetry Books to Read in 2024*
*One of The Millions's Must Read Poetry Books of Winter 2024*

National Book Award finalist Diana Khoi Nguyen's second poetry collection, a haunting of a family's past upon its present, and a frank reckoning with how loss and displacement transform mothers and daughters across generations.

In Root Fractures, Diana Khoi Nguyen excavates the moments of rupture in a family: a mother who was forced underground after the Fall of Saigon, a father who engineered a new life in California as an immigrant, a brother who cut himself out of every family picture before cutting himself out of their lives entirely. And as new generations of the family come of age, opportunities to begin anew blend with visitations from the past. Through poems of disarming honesty and personal risk, Nguyen examines what takes root after a disaster and how we can make a story out of the broken pieces of our lives.

As Terrance Hayes writes, "'There is nothing that is not music' for this poet. Poetry is found in the gaps, silences, and ruptures of history." This astonishing second collection renders poetry into an act of kintsugi, embellishing what is broken in a family's legacy so that it can be seen in a new light.


"In Root Fractures, we come face-to-face with a dark gravitational pull, the great black hole of war. Through the Vietnamese American experience, Diana Khoi Nguyen languages a feeling many of us can relate to, so often buried, silent and deep, within land, blood, bone, into molecular DNA. Yet because a black hole, deceptively, is not empty space, Nguyen tunnels through memories, photographs, family stories, death, grief, belonging and separation, motherland and mother tongue, relocation and empire--the points of entry and departure in those holes left in her siblings, parents, grandparents, and skyward to generations before. 'A hole is a hole, but none of them are the same, ' Nguyen writes. Yet, she reminds us, there is a way out. As they 'illuminate what once was broken, ' each of these poems glimmers and pulses along a pathway out--not for one person alone, but as enduring starlight, for generations to come." --Layli Long Soldier, author of Whereas

"When I say that Diana Khoi Nguyen's work is deeply moving and unsettling, I mean that her words move and unsettle ideas about diaspora, identity, and loss in startling and gorgeous ways. I can't get enough of this devastation." --Beth Nguyen, author of Owner of a Lonely Heart


About Ward Toward

Yale Younger Poet Cindy Juyoung Ok resolutely searches for hope in spaces of fragmentation

"Ok's métier in this lovely debut is an elegantly discursive, analytical style studded with ironies."--David Woo, Literary Hub

"There are places," Cindy Juyoung Ok writes, "where shaking is expected, loss is / assumed."

In the 118th volume of the Yale Series of Younger Poets, Ok moves assuredly between spaces--from the psych ward to a prison cell, from divided countries to hospice wards. She plumbs these institutions of constraint, ward to ward, and the role of each reality's language, word to word, as she uncovers fractured private codes and shares them in argument, song, and prayer.

Using visual play in invented forms, Ok counters familiar narratives about mental illness, abuse, and death, positing that it is not a person's character or will that makes survival possible, but luck, and other people. The poems disrupt expectation with the comedy of institutionalized teens, nostalgia after the climate crisis, tenderness in a nursing home, and the wholeness of faltering Englishes. How do pagodas, Seinfeld, ransoms, swans, and copays each make or refuse meaning? Ok's resolute, energized debut shifts language's fissures to reassemble them into a new place of belonging.


"With brio and sorrow, Ok's book investigates such subjects as hospitalization for a major depressive disorder, the anti-Asian Atlanta spa shootings, and the failures of romantic and familial love. . . . Ok's métier in this lovely debut is an elegantly discursive, analytical style studded with ironies."--David Woo, Literary Hub

"Cindy Juyoung Ok's debut moves through spaces seamlessly--psych ward, hospice care, nation upon nation--and unites them through an impressive articulation of their violences."--Summer Farah, The Millions, "Must-Read Poetry: Winter 2024"

Ward Toward is a piercing debut: a startle, a fissioning. These poems fragment, cleave and cluster, seek new grammars, strategize not for cohesion but proximity, convergence."--Donika Kelly, author of The Renunciations

"Reading Cindy Juyoung Ok's poems is like witnessing the Big Bang in close-up slow motion--infinite collisions of syntax, thought and emotion--pyrotechnic and glorious. This debut volume spectacularly showcases an utterly singular poetic sensibility."--Monica Youn, author of From From

"A delectable, scintillating read that leaps long into strangely elegant foray. In the dwelled, survived, and warded world, this poetic is utterly remarkable and calls for a rainstorm of awards."--Allison Adelle Hedge Coke, author of Look at This Blue

"Cindy Juyoung Ok is a wonderfully inventive poet. . . . She writes in many forms, some invented, and her constant impulse is to break the frame, to escape oppressive containment."--Rae Armantrout, from the Foreword to Ward Toward

Event address: 
399 N. Euclid Ave.
Saint Louis, MO 63108
Root Fractures: Poems By Diana Khoi Nguyen Cover Image
ISBN: 9781668031308
Availability: On Our Shelves (Note - We update this inventory once per day.)
Published: Scribner - January 30th, 2024

Ghost Of By Diana Khoi Nguyen Cover Image
ISBN: 9781632430526
Availability: Ships quickly (1-7 days)
Published: Omnidawn - April 3rd, 2018

Ward Toward (Yale Series of Younger Poets #118) By Cindy Juyoung Ok, Rae Armantrout (Foreword by) Cover Image
By Cindy Juyoung Ok, Rae Armantrout (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9780300273922
Availability: On Our Shelves (Note - We update this inventory once per day.)
Published: Yale University Press - March 5th, 2024


Featured Events for front page