Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Poem: Linh Dinh

Young, prodigious, linguistically daring, a hoot: Linh Dinh. My introduction to Linh's work came in the form of one of Renee Gladman's scrumptious little handsewn Leroy chapbooks (No. 8). Linh's was titled A Small Triumph Over Lassitude. Adorning the cover was an image by artist Layla Ali. I savored this and several of the other Leroy collections (by Rachel Levitsky, C.S. Giscombe, Hoa Nguyen, Bhanu Kapil) for a while, and they migrated with me from Jersey City to Chicago, sat for a while in my office, then made a few other journeys; now I can locate only Linh's chapbook. At another point, a former colleague of mine and I would speculate if Linh Dinh was several people--or at least two--because he published so much. When he came to Chicago in the fall of 2005, I naturally forgot to bring this gem of a chapbook with me for him to sign. I also forgot to ask him about the prevalence of "pigs" in the text. The poems later made it into one of his full-length book collections, but in my opinion they almost got lost in it; sometimes a chapbook is the perfect portion.

Here's one of his poems that reminds me, interestingly enough, of Harryette's work:


Aphasia (sunrise)
Toothache (sunset)
A smelly window (sunrise)
A stinking door (sunset)
Strep throat (sunrise)
Glossolalia (sunset)

A century among thee comets.
A century among pigs.
A century on this earth.
And I still don't know where to go
To get a half-decent haircut.

An hour early. A minute late.
A day early. A century late.

He was neither late nor early, having arrived
At his appointed laceration
At exactly
The anointed time.

Copyright © Linh Dinh, 2001, from A Small Triumph Over Lassitude, Leroy Chapbook Series.

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