Joshua Nguyen

Joshua Nguyen is a queer Vietnamese-American writer, a collegiate national poetry slam champion (CUPSI), and a native Houstonian. He is the author of the chapbook, “American Lục Bát for My Mother” (Bull City Press, 2021) and has received fellowships from Kundiman, Tin House, Sundress Academy For The Arts, and the Vermont Studio Center. He has been published in The Offing, Wildness, American Poetry Review, The Texas Review, Auburn Avenue, Crab Orchard Review, and Gulf Coast Mag. He has also been featured on both the “VS” podcast and Tracy K. Smith’s, “The Slowdown”. He is a bubble tea connoisseur and works in a kitchen. His debut poetry collection, “Come Clean” (Oct 5th 2021, University of Wisconsin Press), was the winner of the 2021 Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry. He is a PhD student at The University of Mississippi, where he also received his MFA.


Last Words [Extended Cento]

            after Mitski


When they come for my things,

there will be a note left on my pillow:


I was going to live

for all my cotton tees, folded all the same—  


like did you know the Liberty Bell is a replica?

How it shines its crack



I inched away,


silently housed in these original walls

until I became beneath the primer.


They’ll never know how I’d stared at the dark in the room,

but I watched my made-bed every single morning


that I couldn’t have changed.

No matter how smattered my insides,


I am relieved that I left my room tidy—

One less ugly sight.


I always wanted to die clean & pretty

while my dreams made music in the night.

I Ordered A New Pull-up Bar


Because before the gym

closed, I stretched

my lats toward a lattice

ceiling of red plastic

& sweaty clavicles. I carried

the weight of two

brown ankles beneath

my wrists— gym partner

of a greater mythological being.


I am saying that I miss

the sound of two men

praying for the muscles

in our shoulderblades

to shiver & shake.


I am saying that I miss

my own back burning

with the sprinkler busted.


I am saying that I miss

the day after, the sensitive

ache, of work, of recovery.


Chin-ups are a trap

workout. & pull-ups

remind us how to

yearn towards

vestigial wings.

Issue Statement

GMR: What is an issue in your community that you know is of utmost importance?

JN: Anti-Asian Hate, Anti-Asian Violence, Asian-Black Solidarity


GMR: What is the issue at hand?

JN: Since the Coronavirus hit, we have seen a closer spotlight on the discrimination that Asians and Asian-Americans (particularly Asian and Asian-American women) receive. From attacks on the street, harassment in public spaces, and the tragic shooting that occured in Georgia; we need to dismantle the model minority myth and recognize that Asians and Asian-American hate is an issue that needs to be dealt with. Issues on representation in the media shouldn’t be the ONLY issue for Asian-Americans.


At the same time, we have to combat the violence against Asian-Americans without putting down or putting other groups in harm— particularly those in the Black community. Asian-Americans who are hoping for more policing must be aware that calling the police may endanger other groups around them, especially black people who are constantly viewed as a threat by the police. Instead, we must rethink our strategies in keeping our communities safe and look for more holistic actions that bring people together.


GMR: How can GMR readers know more and possibly help?