Sunday, April 11, 2010

[Asian American Poet Spotlight] Barbara Tran

It's been a little while since we've last heard from Barbara Tran, a Vietnamese American poet born in New York City. In 2002 she released her first poetry collection, In the Mynah Bird's Own Words through Tupelo Press, and was a finalist for the PEN OpenBook Award.

She was a coeditor of the 1998 anthology Watermark: Vietnamese American Poetry and Prose, published by the Asian American Writers' Workshop. Barbara Tran also served as a guest editor for a special issue of the Michigan Quarterly Review entitled Viet nam: Beyond the Frame. Many became familiar with her as a subject in the documentary Between the Lines: Asian American Women's Poetry by the filmmaker Yunah Hong. Her other credits include poems in Ploughshares, Women's Review of Books, The New Yorker and MANOA,Two Rivers: New Vietnamese Writing from America and Viet Nam

Interestingly, she's also a certified dog trainer in Vermont, a graduate of Pat Miller's Peaceful Paws Academy. Some have suggested she may also be working on a second book of poetry and a novel.

But while we're waiting for these to show up, we can look at poems of hers such as Fire or Phu Nhuan. If you can get a copy of In The Mynah Bird's Own Words, you'll find she's combined prose poems with more traditional work, mostly opting for very compact forms. Most of those who've read it find her long poem Rosary to be the framing piece. It's fair to suggest that in the space of the 12 poems she includes within 32 pages, she's accomplished a great deal worth keeping an eye out for in the future.

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