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Come Clean

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Joshua Nguyen's sharp, songlike, and often experimental collection compartmentalizes past trauma—sexual and generational—through the quotidian. Poems aim to confront the speaker's past by physically, and mentally, cleaning up. Here, the Asian-American masculine interrogates the domestic space through the sensual and finds healing through family and in everyday rhythms: rin Joshua Nguyen's sharp, songlike, and often experimental collection compartmentalizes past trauma—sexual and generational—through the quotidian. Poems aim to confront the speaker's past by physically, and mentally, cleaning up. Here, the Asian-American masculine interrogates the domestic space through the sensual and finds healing through family and in everyday rhythms: rinsing rice until the water runs clear, folding clean shirts, and attempts at re-creating an unwritten family recipe. Yet past wounds remain present like permanent marker under layers of paint or spilled fish sauce set into car upholstery. Infused with the Shinto-inspired organizing practices of KonMari and the catchy nihilism of Mitski's songs, the poems in Come Clean unpack, organize, and tidy up life's messy joys and hurtful chaos with intimacy, grace, and vulnerability. No matter how smattered my insides,   I am relieved that I left my room tidy— One less ugly sight.   I always wanted to die clean & pretty while my dreams made music in the night.—Excerpt from "Last Words"


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Joshua Nguyen's sharp, songlike, and often experimental collection compartmentalizes past trauma—sexual and generational—through the quotidian. Poems aim to confront the speaker's past by physically, and mentally, cleaning up. Here, the Asian-American masculine interrogates the domestic space through the sensual and finds healing through family and in everyday rhythms: rin Joshua Nguyen's sharp, songlike, and often experimental collection compartmentalizes past trauma—sexual and generational—through the quotidian. Poems aim to confront the speaker's past by physically, and mentally, cleaning up. Here, the Asian-American masculine interrogates the domestic space through the sensual and finds healing through family and in everyday rhythms: rinsing rice until the water runs clear, folding clean shirts, and attempts at re-creating an unwritten family recipe. Yet past wounds remain present like permanent marker under layers of paint or spilled fish sauce set into car upholstery. Infused with the Shinto-inspired organizing practices of KonMari and the catchy nihilism of Mitski's songs, the poems in Come Clean unpack, organize, and tidy up life's messy joys and hurtful chaos with intimacy, grace, and vulnerability. No matter how smattered my insides,   I am relieved that I left my room tidy— One less ugly sight.   I always wanted to die clean & pretty while my dreams made music in the night.—Excerpt from "Last Words"

35 review for Come Clean

  1. 4 out of 5

    Brendan Ryan

    Loved it so much I wrote a review https://saigoneer.com/vietnam-literat... Loved it so much I wrote a review https://saigoneer.com/vietnam-literat...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Lavoie

    I need my notes to write this review. This book is an amazing collection of poetry. It ranges from the beautiful to the horrific. It touches on many themes, including sexual assault of a minor, so be warned of that, reader. That said, the poetry is brilliant. Nguyen has such a fresh voice, and the styles are wonderful. I was introduced to new forms that are found in a culture that is not my own. As I read, I often found myself stopping to think about some of the poems and making note of them bec I need my notes to write this review. This book is an amazing collection of poetry. It ranges from the beautiful to the horrific. It touches on many themes, including sexual assault of a minor, so be warned of that, reader. That said, the poetry is brilliant. Nguyen has such a fresh voice, and the styles are wonderful. I was introduced to new forms that are found in a culture that is not my own. As I read, I often found myself stopping to think about some of the poems and making note of them because they are so unique or full of such meaning. I honestly never do that with poetry. Some highlights: I love the poem "Wisconsin has a place in my heart & I just want it to let go" because it is read both forwards and backwards, with minor changes in word order. Meaningful both ways and brilliant. "A Dirty Floor in the Key of Elbows" has stanzas where the end line begins the next line. I know I've seen this form of poetry before, but I cannot remember the name. It's not a villanelle or sestina... Brilliant. "Google Calendar for my Imposter Syndrome" is brilliant. Never seen a poem like this before. "My Cat Can't Grasp Object Permanence" MIGHT have made me cry. "I Don't Trust the Dishwasher" Is the longest poem in the collection is brilliant. It starts with a dishwasher and loops back through it after the poem discusses other poems that precede it. Please read this volume. You won't regret it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    ☆ carter ☆

    Nguyen's collection is so transparent and well written. His usage of formatting and experimental styles captures the underlying nature of his poems - the gaps that couldn't be filled in the past, the crookedness or brokenness that came as an aftermath. Nguyen's collection is so transparent and well written. His usage of formatting and experimental styles captures the underlying nature of his poems - the gaps that couldn't be filled in the past, the crookedness or brokenness that came as an aftermath.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Gabriel Noel

    ARC given by Edelweiss+ for Honest Review MAJOR TW: sexual assault of a minor A deeply personal and remarkable read. I loved the hybrid styles of poetry used, especially the American Luc Bat! Nguyen writes about his experience as an Asian American in such a incredibly vivid and robust way. The poems about sexual assault are raw and unforgiving and is a harsh but important thing he wrote about. My favorite poems are: "One Night Withstand" and "My Mother Explains Universal Healthcare". ARC given by Edelweiss+ for Honest Review MAJOR TW: sexual assault of a minor A deeply personal and remarkable read. I loved the hybrid styles of poetry used, especially the American Luc Bat! Nguyen writes about his experience as an Asian American in such a incredibly vivid and robust way. The poems about sexual assault are raw and unforgiving and is a harsh but important thing he wrote about. My favorite poems are: "One Night Withstand" and "My Mother Explains Universal Healthcare".

  5. 5 out of 5

    Randy Kim

    Emotionally deepening, cleverly funny, and brazenly candid, Joshua pulls no punches in his debut poetry book where he takes us on a journey of childhood memories involving generational & sexual trauma, diaspora, and evolving identities while evoking inspirations from singer Mitski and TV star Marie Kondo. This collection of poetry is a love letter to his childhood self, and a love letter to all of us who live in the "in-between" Emotionally deepening, cleverly funny, and brazenly candid, Joshua pulls no punches in his debut poetry book where he takes us on a journey of childhood memories involving generational & sexual trauma, diaspora, and evolving identities while evoking inspirations from singer Mitski and TV star Marie Kondo. This collection of poetry is a love letter to his childhood self, and a love letter to all of us who live in the "in-between"

  6. 5 out of 5

    Susan

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tiana Nobile

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mason

  9. 4 out of 5

    Austin Nguyen

  10. 4 out of 5

    Adrienne Renee

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mace

  12. 5 out of 5

    Crystal

  13. 4 out of 5

    chezy

  14. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Burton

  15. 5 out of 5

    Adam

  16. 4 out of 5

    Courtney Smith

  17. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

  18. 4 out of 5

    Nadia A

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bridget

  20. 5 out of 5

    Laura Wilson

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kendall

  22. 5 out of 5

    Roof Beam Reader (Adam)

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kylie

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Nguyen

  25. 4 out of 5

    Dani Bee

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

  27. 5 out of 5

    Poetry Daily

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Qi

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sarah S

  30. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Lang

  31. 4 out of 5

    anoushka

  32. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Huỳnh

  33. 5 out of 5

    Anne W

  34. 5 out of 5

    Nhi

  35. 4 out of 5

    Leo Butarelli

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