She Who Has No Master(s)

from
WOULD THAT

These poems are from Would That, a series of “body-text” poems by 13 voices of She Who Has No Master(s), including: Angie Chau, Lan Duong, Vi Khi Nao, Anh-Hoa Thi Nguyen, Diana Khoi Nguyen, Hoa Nguyen, Isabelle Thuy Pelaud, Aimee Phan, Abbigail N. Rosewood, Dao Strom, Sophia Terazawa, Stacey Tran, Julie Thi Underhill.

 

SHWNM statement: As women/womxn of the Vietnamese diaspora, our bodies hold many “would that”s: hungers, silences, absences, wonder(ings)s, and wound(er)ings. There are many things we might wonder would that be, would that have been, would we be—other/not Other(ed) than we are or have been? However, in the Vietnamese language—which we stem from but here do not write in—there is no such thing as the subjunctive mood, which, if it is to be conveyed in Vietnamese must rely on context—the environment—of its adjoining words; what surrounds the action or description places it in or out of time. Which may be to say, what surrounds us is what places us in relation to: history, inheritance, the present, possible futures. As bodies, we also know ourselves to be repositories of no-longer-present actions and events, of many layers of witness and memory, of inheritances both evident and abstract, of potential futures too—desires, fears, unknowns. But what if we dis-place our (kn)own bodies from their visible backgrounds, or what if we re-make those bodies? What if we absent our enfigured selves and ask you instead to (learn to) read anew the spaces left behind? These image-text experiments explore those spaces of the self, and self-conceptions, and are meant to challenge how others may ‘read’ or see us, as a cohesive yet collective, diasporic, multi-voiced, Vietnamese-feminine descended entity.