diaCRITICS has showcased the photographic works of Vi Son Trinh in previous posts – here and here – and we felt it apt to close out 2019 with some new visual poetry by Vi, which he made upon a recent return visit this fall to Viet Nam. As always, Vi’s works are gentle and evocative, sensitive and soothing, and these poems end our year on a note that is intimate and contemplative, pondering the many “textures” of the in-between and the delicate balance of holding open space within oneself for the different waves of nước to intersect and mingle.
Part poem. Part fluent. Part Viet. Part not.
Since returning to Vietnam, I have been feeling the weight of my own duality. I find myself severed into two, one here on đất (land) and the other stranded somewhere on nước (water). The memories of black sand, waves, and my mother’s lullabies have been etched deep within, where the spiral of past and present are woven into my DNA. Finally transcribed into a ghost. Sometimes here, sometimes on my father’s village, sometimes over the bodies of those who have drowned.
The ghost is still floating, still searching, still trying to find its footing where it can finally rest.
These visual diaries are my way of understanding the complexity of being in two separate places at the same time.
Vi Son Trinh is a Vietnamese-American visual storyteller. Born in a refugee camp in Galang, Indonesia, and currently based in the Bay Area, California, Vi Son explores personal narratives of fellow refugee and immigrant community members. Vi Son is currently working on two projects, “Stories We Carry” a photo installation that empowers individuals from immigrant and refugee experiences, and “Silk Rise” a photo series that explores the intersectionality of Vietnamese tradition and contemporary through ao dai. Vi Son has photographed for publications and organizations such as Banana Magazine, SF Chronicle, Hyphen Magazine, Asian American Donor Program, and VSCO.