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Sông I Sing

4.51  ·  Rating details ·  149 ratings  ·  14 reviews
When it feels like no one
lets you live
at your own volume

You sing.

Dynamic and eye-opening, this debut by a National Poetry Slam finalist critiques an America sleepwalking through its days and explores the contradictions of race and class in America.

Bao Phi has been a National Poetry Slam finalist and appeared on HBO's Def Poetry. His poems and essays are widely
Paperback, 113 pages
Published September 20th 2011 by Coffee House Press
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Bao Phi has been a major presence on the U.S. performance poetry scene for many years, known for his dynamic crowd-rousing performances. His Song I Sing is an important book, with a lot of important truths to tell, expressed with necessary anger and passion, as well as a shimmering volubility and breadth of creative imagination that can sometimes be exhilarating.


One poem that seized my interest early on was "The Nguyen Twins Find Adoration in the Poetry World." As I interpret it, this poem
Nov 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
born in viet nam, but raised and currently residing in minneapolis, bao phi is a slam poet and spoken word artist. after considerable success on the slam circuit (two-time minnesota grand slam champion, two-time slam winner at the famed nuyorican poets cafe, and national poetry slam finalist), comes bao phi's first proper collection of poetry, sông i sing. divided into four parts, sông i sing is an audacious work full of courage, effrontery, outrage, compassion, pride, hope, and, perhaps most ...more
May 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry-21st
“Reverse Racism,” is very good. And the last poem was smart. Liked how he did what he did.

His writing can be violent, but there's a reason: he's trying to elicit a response from the reader, and he's encouraging the reader to see, to understand, that this is how minorities experience a majority society, especially in a majority society where there is a long and brutal history of racial/ethnic oppression. It is provocative, but that's the point. To provoke thought.

He's saying, "This is what we
Dev Singer
Aug 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I read this book for my Multicultural Resources for Diverse Communities class.

Phi, B. (2011). Sông I sing: poems. Minneapolis: Coffeehouse Press.

Paperback | $16 | ISBN-13: 978-1-56689-279-7| 113 pages | A Poetry

What does it mean to be invisible? What does it feel like to have one’s life experiences go unrecognized in a country one calls home? For Vietnamese Americans such as Bao Phi, these questions are not theoretical; they are a reality.

Bao Phi is a spoken word artist who has won the Minnesota
Lili Kim
May 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Truth. I'd love to see Bao Phi perform live!

Notable lines (too many, but here's some):

"This is for you, taught to believe in magic / Just not our own."

"so that I can ask, finally, / why the world is always ready for your kind of hate / but never mine?"

"It's like this country only allows us one grief at a time. Your people, you / had that war thing. That's all you get. Shut. The fuck. Up."

"When it feels like no one /lets you live / at your own volume / You sing."

"One of the devil's greatest
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was recommended “Song I Sing” by my instructor, Professor Fajilan, and I’m so glad I read this entire book. This is a collection of poems/stories from different Vietnamese Americans primarily about racism and poverty. I admire how some of the pieces are bilingual (Vietnamese mixed into English). I would recommend this book to anyone who wants more Vietnamese visibility but also don’t mind reading anything with sexually graphic, triggering, reactionary content, or profane writing. My favourite ...more
May 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"A Prince Among Men" and "And the Waves" are my favorites.
Becky Loader
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
While I admire the poet's technique, the subject matter is overwhelmingly depressing and the imagery violent. Did he truly have nothing positive in his life?
Walk-Minh Allen
Jan 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Bao Phi's collection of poetry is:

Raw, rebellious, sweet, funny; Flopping on the deck of a boat, can't catch, so just watch it glisten; Remembering, never forgetting and memory alighting anew; Renewal, refusal...

It is wise! It is time! To read these poems!


Dotty Nguyễn's Plea upon the Day Her Mother Accused Her of Being a Commie and Kicked Her Out of the Family

Prince among Men

Reverse Racism

Giving My Neighbor a Ride to Her Job

Nguyễn in the Promised Land


Everyday People
Lynsy • Little Book Jockey
Full review at Little Book Jockey. Poetry about race is always hard to read. I was actually supposed to read this back in December 2015 for an Asian-American lit class but got sick and missed those classes. I think I would have gotten more out of it had I been there for the discussions. Still, it’s a good collection full of powerful poems.
Jan 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing

A book that is honest about living, being Asian in this country. Part 2 was excellent, " let me not pull the trigger on his story." " so that I can ask, finally, why the world is always ready for your kind of hate but never mine?" powerful. My favorite poems to name a few, Untitled, No Offense, Everyday People, and Bread and Glass. Read this book of poems.
C.E. G
Jan 17, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Minneapolis talent! Favorite poem in this collection: "Reverse Racism."
Mills College Library
811.54 P543s 2011
Nov 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic. Living, poignant, striking words and imagery that captured both my imagination and many of the experiences I've lived or am familiar with as a Viet-American. Highly recommend.
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