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In Reenactments, Hai-Dang Phan grapples with the history, memory, and legacy of the Vietnam War from his vantage point as the son of Vietnamese refugees. Through a kaleidoscope of poetic forms, the past and present, the remembered and imagined, all intersect at shifting angles providing urgent perspectives on conflicts both private and public. Phan weaves throughout the collection stories of his family’s exodus from Vietnam, thoughtfully reenacting an American experience of immigration, dislocation, inheritance, and hope. And, in a fresh move, Phan widens the lens, incorporating translations of several Vietnamese poets. This moving debut marks a vital addition to the literature of immigration and a distinctive contribution to contemporary poetry.

ISBN-13: 9781946448286

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: Sarabande Books

Publication Date: 02-19-2019

Pages: 88

Product Dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.40(d)

Hai-Dang Phan is a Vietnamese-American poet. His poems and translations have been published in The New Yorker, Poetry, Best American Poetry 2016, New England Review, jubilat, Prelude, Waxwing, Asymptote, and other journals. The author of a previous chapbook, Small Wars (Convulsive Editions, 2016), his work has been recognized with the Frederick Bock Prize from Poetry, an Emerging Writers Award from New England Review/Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and an NEA Fellowship. He holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Florida and a Ph.D. in Literary Studies from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Currently, he is an Assistant Professor of English at Grinnell College and lives in Des Moines, Iowa.

Table of Contents


Small Wars 1

A Brief History of Reenactment 2

For Fadhil Assultani 4

To a Human Skull 5

Video Elegy 6

Get to Know Your Ghost 8

Initial Encounter with Locals 9

The Late Eddie Adams 11

Of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment of Volunteers 13


My Father's Norton Introduction to Literature, Third Edition (1981) 17

Quiet Americans 19

Spring Offensive 20

At the Vietnam Center and Archive 22

Fish in a Well 24

How Many Islands 25

Archive Fever 33

Regarding the Spiritual and Social Situation of Vietnam Today (Observations That Are Current but Abstract and Highly General, Typical of the Deep, Sensitive, and Brave Souls of Poets) 34

7504A Amarillo Blvd. East 36


Email From Nguyen Quôc Chánh 39

Arrivals and Departures 40

Saigon Notebook 41

Crossing Håi Vân Pass 42

Anniversary 43

Kites 44

Statue of the Century 45

Lives of the Vietnamese Poets 46

Elsewhere I Don't Know, but Here Must Be Different 48

Blackout 50


Osprey 55

Self-Portrait with New Weapons Systems 56

Motets from Florida 58

Events Ashore 60


Are Those F-16s? 69

Watching World War Z 72

Lunar New Year in Orlando 74

March in Atlanta 76

Greyhound, 1992 77

Waiting for al-Qaeda 79

The Sorrow of War in Bloomington, Indiana 83

My Viet Cong 84

Ballistics 87


My Mother Says the Syrian Refugees Look like Tourists 91

Notes and Acknowledgments 95