Section: Arts

Paul Tran chronicles cross-cultural trauma through poetry

Paul Tran chronicles cross-cultural trauma through poetry

Paul Tran is a poet who deals with trauma. A deft chronicler of turmoil ranging from the devastation of the Vietnam War to the physical and emotional trauma that accompanies sexual violence, Tran is as much a historian as they are a poet.

With work published in three anthologies of poetry and a poem featured in a Sept. 25, 2017 issue of The New Yorker, the Vietnamese-American poet, educator and editor Paul Tran is working on their first poetry manuscript. Their vibrant stories will create an evening of compelling poetry on Jan. 26 in the Cheever Room of Finn House.

Juniper Cruz ’19, Kenyon Review associate and student manager of Snowden Multicultural Center, spearheaded the planning of the event. Cruz said she first discovered Tran incidentally through her online poetry class.

“I think they do an amazing job at acknowledging marginalized folks’ plight and power and the messiness of intersectionality in a way that can be expressed through both words and emotion,” Cruz said of Tran in an email to the Collegian.

Tran is also a poetry editor at The Offing, an online literary magazine, and holds the position of Chancellor’s Graduate Fellow in the Writing Program at Washington University in St. Louis.

Their work explores the complex interconnections of queerness, mental health and the difficulties of being a first-generation Vietnamese American. In addition to having their work published in Prairie Schooner and RHINO, Tran was the first Asian American in almost 20 years to win the Nuyorican Poets Cafe Grand Slam.

After approaching Chris Kennerly, associate dean of students and director of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI), with her idea, Cruz suggested that ODEI, the Kenyon Review and the LGBTQ+ Diversity Fund collaborate to host Tran on the Hill.

The LGBTQ+ Diversity Fund was established to encourage activities and events that foster community for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning students, and for others on the gender spectrum, according to the fund’s webpage. 

Cruz is excited to hear what thehave prepared. “I think Paul Tran will bring very important discussions about the intersections of queerness, gender and race in a way that is both celebratory, but realistic,” she said.

Tran will give a reading on Friday, Jan. 26 at 5 p.m. in Cheever Room.


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