“Let’s keep this as informal as possible.”
An exuberant performer reads to a quiet lecture hall at Coe College. He shuffles constantly, pauses to emphasize his statements, lifting an expressive face for eye contact. This turns a four-line poem into an engaging spectacle. He brings the expansive world view of a restless explorer and observer to the modest room in a very interpersonal manner.
Linh Dinh, a Vietnamese writer and artist, brought for us select pieces from his collection and a slice of his curiosity.
When he began, he explained how he travels to heal from the omnipresent plague of screens and acquire more knowledge of the precious faces so often ignored. He claims you cannot know about the everyday person when your eyes are drawn somewhere “more glamorous” by the media. Thus, he depicted the importance of knowing oneself, body and mind, learning through personal experience. This philosophy touches all of his work.
He starts with shorter poems resulting from the “quick publishing” ideas online, to write fast and post even faster. Analysis of the body, metaphorically and in accurate description, holds its part in the majority of his selected poems (and quite a few edible metaphors, such as a woman comparing her body simultaneously to an egg, squid, and ice cream). The topics presented involve everything from untouched spots upon the body and their philosophical consideration, to a piece built by precise literal imagery. Humor meshed with provocative statements, such as an unpublished poem “United States of Underwear” which declares the problem of media dependency for our society to gather opinions and news. He also shared a short story which told of a man in jail becoming obsessed with a dictionary in a language he couldn’t read. It tells of two things that intrigue Dinh: language, and the human experience.
Dinh’s world view emerges more during the second Q&A portion of the reading. It was a display of optimism for individuals, an appreciation for how they have come to where they are now. As he states, everyone has a story, and it’s amazing that everyone has mustered the energy simply to go through each day to end up wherever they are. He wants to know that journey, just as he has walked and commuted so far to hear them. His experiences could convince an audience to purge themselves of their fear of the unfamiliar and welcome in the world. This seems to be of his goals. He titles himself a writer of the underprivileged, and he succeeds in speaking like he has acquired a fulfilling lifetime of tales.
“Everyone is creative…no one is boring.”
-Jenna Kelly, Poetry Editor