POEMS OF WAR, FAMILY, IMMIGRATION, AND CULTURE
Red Thread makes an exceptional contribution to the poetry of war. Consistently soft-spoken in tone and polemic-free, it is a shimmering and delicate book.
Jane Summer, author of The Silk Road
This remarkable collection of poems tells the turning points in a life that began in the midst of turmoil and violence. Teresa Mei Chuc was born in Vietnam during the horrendous war that bombed her people and her homeland. Somehow, she and her family survived, although her parents were separated for a long time. Teresa, her brother, and their mother escaped Vietnam in a ship crowded with hungry, sick, and frightened immigrants. They settled in California, where eventually they were reunited with her father, who had spent nine years in a Vietcong reeducation camp.
Family is a recurring theme in Red Thread. Especially important is the relationship of mother and daughter. The poet's earliest bomb shelter was her mother's womb, and the mother returns time and again, cooking rice, dispensing wisdom (Don't smell roses), telling ghost stories, and passing on her heritage.
Teresa's cultural heritage informs many of these poems: Vietnamese Ghost Stories, Vietnamese Globe, How Chopsticks Were Invented, Saigon, and Cam On are a few of many examples, as are Moon Festival and Chinese Female Kung-Fu Superheroes.
Out of her personal history, beyond her cultural heritage, and apart from her family, Teresa finds her own individuality in these poems. She does smell the roses, and their scent changes her. Roses in fact turn her into a poet, for when she crashes her bike into a rose bush, her skin is pierced by thorns and the essence of rose enters her bloodstream. The poet that emerged from that accident has a strong, intelligent voice. Many of her poems draw on science and mathematics, invoking botany (Photosynthesis, Intimacy), weights and measures (Not Worth a Bullet), geometry (Vietnamese Globe), and quantum equations.
But the one overriding theme in Red Thread is the horror of war. Over and over, Teresa Mei Chuc returns to the absurd tragedy of death and destruction, whether the atrocity be in My Lai or in Gaza, and whether the massacre is made of bullets, tanks, or Agent Orange.
Teresa Mei Chuc's poems have appeared in many literary magazines and several anthologies and four chapbooks. She is a graduate of the Masters in Fine Arts in creative writing program at Goddard College in Vermont. This is her first full-length poetry collection.