Hoa Nguyen Recommends...

“When I feel like I am ‘irritably reaching after fact and reason’ and the writing turns to sludge or sand, I turn to chance operations and knowledge systems such as the I Ching and tarot to get my transmission moving. It was the I Ching that initiated my book A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure, providing me with meaning and message in hexagram 51, Chên / ‘shock, the arousing thunder,’ which signals disruption, loss, and chaos, themes around which I found expression. Chên grew to animate my book and informed its title, an emblem linked later to the image of the Tower from tarot’s deck, a card I drew before visiting Vietnam for the first time since leaving as a child. The Tower card’s manifold meanings released expression, acted as a return and resonance to which to respond and correspond with poetic language. I continued to consider the themes of the hexagram Chên and the Tower card, and would turn to tarot as I wrote and revised. Once, in a long stall, I drew the Four of Pentacles card, a miser symbol of holding too fast to ideas, suggesting that I ‘risk and release’ in order to renew the creative cycle. Later I drew the Three of Swords, a card which led me to consider how I might have to ‘kill my darlings’ and scrap whole poems I had grown attached to but that no longer served their purpose. Working with tarot or I Ching isn’t magic—it’s a way to correlate with image and association, a relationship that can give rise to recognition, create metaphor, or lead poems across time.”
—Hoa Nguyen, author of A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure (Wave Books, 2021) 

Photo credit: Waylon Smith