When you were a toddler, little more than a babe, you and your younger sister played in the playpen in the kitchen/office downstairs. It was only the two of you then, the other three would come later, ushered in with the twenty-first century.
Your mother was frustrated half the time, still, a bit overwhelmed having married your father two years before, then you and your sister came almost one after the other. Adjusting to another household, a new set of parents, and helping out in the fast food place they ran, a pace and life so much different to the one she’s always known. You wouldn’t know this, not for years and years to come will you join the dots and realize her quiet bravery.
Picture Us In The Light is an entirely unexpected gift, and if I’ve learned anything so far it’s to not take those for granted. Potent, conscious, heartbreaking and brave, Daniel Cheng’s voice is at the same time halting but beneath that is an understated verve that’s seen him through facing agonizing truths and fears, his family’s and his own, and ultimately the healing that’s come out of it.
Now as you might guess, I didn’t finish any yet but I can already tell I’ll appreciate their final masterpieces. Each of the three represents, but not reduced to, a different pair of eyes to separate cultures.
So with Night Sky we’ve got a Vietnamese-born migrant who writes of family, grief, war, and love with overwhelming cadence at times, however, at other times pretty vague (for poetry I dare say) that I can’t begin to guess what I’m supposed to take from it. Again, I’m not finished so this is all subject to change. I discovered him when I came across his poem ‘Someday I Will Love Ocean Vuong‘ on The Yorker and I was hooked on the flow of words from one cleverly crafted concept to the next, and more importantly, the gentle cry of the message on self-love.