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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Elena Gomez reviews my last book of poems

in Overland, out of Australia, 2/9/16:

Some Kind of Cheese Orgy – Linh Dinh, CHAX Press, 2009.


The excess so enjoyably secreting from the poems in this book seems to be a deliberate, buoyant critique of US culture and western capitalism. ‘Zoology’ observes the rage of male apes, a dissatisfying wife, consumption of morbid news. In ‘Pissed off Zombies’, the subheadings (‘Etc.’, ‘Demons, after all.’) break up stanzas of mildly varying length, but are given the same text treatment as the poem’s title so that it could also be a series of short, fat, individual blocks of text. The poems examine themselves, tease a potential of implosion. Dinh is a master of the line. As the reader zooms out, they may find the obscenity and flamboyance begins to overtake. But, for example, in ‘Double Double Portraits’, each line is given its space. ‘Have you been translated recently?/How long has it been since you’ve been translated?’. Is translation like STI checks? It’s not quite clear by the time you reach the end. Towards the end, the poems begin to pick apart Vietnamese phrases, variations of laughing and then of crying. One gets the sense that Linh Dinh is daring you to take him too seriously, that he’ll always be one step away from any definitive statement you make about his work.

This book trawls dirt, gluttony, desire, migrant labour. To say it is ‘amusing’ doesn’t quite cut it.



About Me

Born in Vietnam in 1963, I came to the US in 1975, and have also lived in Italy, England and Germany. I'm the author of two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), five of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007) and Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009), and a novel, Love Like Hate (2010). I've been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories From Around the World, etc. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013). Blood and Soap was chosen by Village Voice as one of the best books of 2004. My writing has been translated into Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.