Hung Q. Tu

Berkeley: Atelos 2000

The cover of Hung Tu's Verisimilitude has US Dept. of Defense photos of soldiers in Vietnam, with the names of American cities printed over them, part of the strategy of "bringing the war home," a key component in the ideological struggles of the anti-war movement. In Verisimilitude, Tu brings our own era's ideological wars "home," rearticulating the global at the level of the local and rewriting the subjective against the terrain of multinationalist subjection and subjugation.

Tactics — of fractured lyric, overheard downtime conversations, just-in-time memos from the bureaucratic unconscious of corporate HQ, "private" ironies writ large onto the increasingly corporatized public sphere — not "all power to the fragments" but the subjective struggle in and against late capitalist ideologies that threaten to rationalize the itinerant cultural worker into his own pre-fab cubicles. "Who needs accounting skills / when you're accounted for."

New economy? "Across the alley / In data / Emitting faint pulses / Of reification" New divisions of labor? "over the table —mergers / across the mesa — maquilas" New (neo) liberalisms? "China Embraces Liberalism! / consequences live in neighborhoods / but since this is literature / I'm interested in the term FOB"

Work-time, "made time," down time, "real time," "retarded time [online]" — the "private" underwritten by the punch-clock — "lunch hour, that over / she sighs: 'Back to reality'" — stolen time, paid out in piecemeal blurts of near-comic exasperation —

brocade enter block
headed intra-agency
scram — c-span
my check please
want ads up to blow
cropped agits below
lapse in then
out of digit high
encrypt the drool
from public mouths
on public time
could and do nuke

Against the retreat of much recent writing by emergent poets into the safe havens of a conversational (and often apolitical) poetics of personality, Hung Q. Tu shows that the personal is (as always) political, as he takes the political personally. His work opens up new horizons for political poetry as it enters the global age.

-- David Buuck

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