Something has happened here: an empire has gone to seed, an entire country goes on strike, people begin eating dirt and flowers, and a couple lives on a riverboat to avoid the ground. In Mine, Tung-Hui Hu makes myths out of the personal. He speaks of desire and awkwardness and the earth that contains both. Resonant, blunt, and sharply intelligent, this is writing that excavates.
As history unfolds over and over the same geography, these poems become, as Hu has written, “practice for the living.” The book grows out of the poet’s interest in how the histories we extract from the land become interlaced with our identity. The book asks, Where do we come from? But also: How do we make amends?
“This fresh and unexpected poet extends the lyric into the social space without losing any of song’s intensity or mystery, so that these casually elegant, affecting poems feel as interior as they are worldly.” —Mark Doty
“Pound said that poetry should be as well-written as prose. [Mine,] composed of translucent and sinewy sentences set in loosely cascading lines, shows a range of subject matter (history, empire, mythic epilogues) unavailable to more lyrical poets. These poems explore life outside the self. Many take up a narrative ‘he’ or ‘she,’ or a choral, colonial ‘we.’ When the lyric ‘I’ does appear, couched in stories composed from reading as from experience, it too seems to be merely another persona. The result is something other than fiction or history or myth. It is a poetry composed of figments of reality.” —Judges’ citation, Eisner Prize
“Tung-Hui Hu’s second book of poetry, Mine, is a confident, artful collection—sophisticated and persuasive, memorable and tight… Hu strings images together and builds, in poem after poem, to thoughtful, nimble, resonant conclusions that have an enormous amount of authority… The combination of such an investigative, open-minded approach and Hu’s jewel-like control of imagery and structure make Mine, indeed, a truly innovative and impressive collection. It is not explained easily, and after many readings, its inherent energy has not at all diminished. It is often stunning and always memorable. Hu is clearly a poet of enormous talent.” —Rain Taxi