In her first full-length collection, Stacey Tran's poems navigate the complicated nature of memory in the present tense, gracefully exploring an immigrant history through the paradox of language and time. Never nostalgic yet always charged, Tran interchanges an ode that looks back, forward, up, and down all at once.
Bilingually laced and sensually pulled from the taut form of her enigmatic being, Stacey Tran’s Soap for the Dogs is a refreshing gastronomic architecture made of razor-sharp, ancestral ingredients, chic aphoristic haikus, and narratively charged self-contained imperial, experimental lines of terse, stark prose. It’s minimal without sacrificing depth and verve. It’s energetic and lush without resorting to prolixity. It has the ability to expand, surprise, and transform itself after your eyes and heart leave the page. Stacey Tran’s first poetry collection is warm, witty, inventive, and piercing. It is elegantly and acutely designed to congeal postmodernity with tradition, poetry with history, family with food while pulling you into the intimate, liminal, tight, flexible, and unexpected spaces of her brilliant imagination.
Vi Khi Nao, author of Fish in Exile (Coffee House Press, 2016)
"How do you know you want something you’ve never tasted?" Sensual and precise, these poems reflect a keen and vivid perception at work, sampling sense impressions and imagery that is minimal and rich, restrained yet immersed, finding the personally monumental lodged imperceptibly inside the incidental—motel soaps, herbs without names, a head of lettuce balanced on the knees, the spine of a book in her mother’s closet. These are poems full of exquisitely rendered sounds, tastes, colors, and textures, that leave space on the page for the reader to fine-tune their senses. These poems draw gently from an inheritance of her immigrant parents’ object-memories, they suggest that survival lies in the senses, and hence in the body. The seeds in these poems seem to me tuned toward growth and the continuing inevitable bloom of both incident and monument.
Dao Strom, author of WE WERE MEANT TO BE A GENTLE PEOPLE (MPMP, 2015)
Soap for the Dogs feels like a collection of miniature fairy tales full of bewitching vegetables, silent contracts, and unlikely transformations. You’re seduced by the silliness of odd images, but the tenderness that peeks out at you between the lines is what keeps you reading.
Soleil Ho, co-host of The Racist Sandwich Podcast, author of Hungry Ghosts (The Atlas Review, 2016)