Hieu Minh Nguyen


HIEU MINH NGUYEN is a queer Vietnamese American poet and performer based out of Minneapolis. Recipient of 2017 NEA fellowship for poetry, Hieu is a Kundiman fellow, a poetry editor for Muzzle Magazine, and an MFA candidate at Warren Wilson College. His work has appeared in PBS Newshour, POETRY Magazine, Gulf Coast, BuzzFeed, Poetry London, Nashville Review, Indiana Review, and more. His debut collection of poetry, This Way to the Sugar (Write Bloody Publishing, 2014) was named a finalist for both the Lambda Literary Award and the MN Book Award. His second collection of poetry, Not Here, was published with Coffee House Press in 2018.  Source

Staying Quiet

Once, a man named a thing beautiful & so we wore it,

buried it, turned it into currency. Somewhere, maybe here, maybe now,

I stand completely still until he looks in my direction. Sometimes I don’t

believe I exist until someone calls me beautiful. Sometimes

any warm thing will do. Sometimes it’s me, a warm thing in the low

light. Beautiful is what the man called me after he did

what he wanted with — I’m running out of ways to describe it

 — my body, my silence. Beautiful. Why, I ask, in order to love

yourself must you, first, be loved? A bone sucked clean

of its marrow. A trail of ants magnified into ash. & of course,

I’m asking no one. & of course, I know the answer.

Of course, I know it’s not me they’re looking for, the men, I mean.

& I wished he didn’t feel the need to speak, really wished — like me

 — he just kept quiet, but no, he had to speak, he had to say beautiful — 

& now, goddamnit, my body appears, trapped in the long tunnel

of a telescope. & now I am here attending the aftermath

of my own ruin, with nothing but beautiful to keep me company.

Maybe he meant the city beyond the window.

Maybe he was talking to himself. Maybe beautiful, as in good job,

as in look what I just did with my own two hands.





Literary Movements:

Spoken Word

Anthology Years:



Body & Body Image

LGBTQ+ Experience

Literary Devices:


the repetition of the same letter or sound at the beginning of words appearing in succession


a figure of speech in which words repeat at the beginning of successive clauses, phrases, or sentences


the absence of a conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so…) between phrases and within a sentence


a recurrence of the same word or phrase two or more times

Rhetorical Question

a question asked for effect, not necessarily to be answered