Cassandra Nguyen describes her blog as ‘a collection of random prose and bullshit’. I think that description kind of shows the attitude she has towards her poems. Most of them show certain forcefulness or genuine ‘fuck it attitude which I enjoy, with one of her poems being literally a photo with the words “Caution Fuck It”. Some of my closest friends employ this kind of attitude in their work, so I’m glad to see others following in the proud tradition. Even her twitter notices this, as the emotional style of her tweets tends to be “Angry” and “Depressed” in that order.
What’s the work like then? Well, going through her blog, she has a definite affinity for beat writers and poets. Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs (a personal favorite of mine), Jack Kerouac appear with surprising frequency. Non-writers are shown off as well, to give an idea of what her other interests are. David Lynch shows up, which makes sense considering her photos.
The photos she does tend to be lost in a haze. Part of this is obviously due to what she uses, which tends to be film. Some of the pictures have real warmth to them, and remind me of one of the joys of film, something I’ve yet to see accurately captured by digital. Having an app which pretends to capture the feeling of film isn’t the same, I’m sorry Apple but you failed.
Her poems appear either on her blog or, more conveniently, on the LETPEOPLEPOEMS project I’ve been following. Actually, they are pretty heavy. They mess with your head, at least “‘Suffer Baby’ – Friday Night Metal Black” does. If you want to read a ‘metal’ poem, this would more than satisfy that need. Keep in mind the theme of this month for LETPEOPLEPOEMS is ‘caution’. Keep in mind as well her picture is an adorable picture of her in the center of a hex with the number “666” on it, written in internet blood. “Jonestown” a longer length indicates a healthily deranged sense of humor. Either that or a more blunt answer: You don’t fuck with Cassandra Nguyen ever.
“Stomach is not invisible” is dark yet again. Here it focuses on death but in a more indifferent way. A boathouse is the solution. Every extremity isn’t doing so hot. When the poem focuses away from the subject, its bleak attitude and hopes to start a punk band, it congratulates the winner of “Top Chef”. The different focuses help lighten the otherwise brooding nature of the poem.
Despite being her shortest one, “Bong Life” might be my favorite one. It doesn’t have very many words in it. With so little, it manages to create a certain mood of defiance. As one person stated “this is badass”. I’d have to agree with them.
Unicorns seem to be a thing with her as well. In her poem “Re Clinically Depressed Unicorns” she has fun in hell. She meets famous evil people. While in hell, she’s relatively prolific with her poetry output. The unicorn and her become friends. Life becomes good while in the literal embodiment of misery, pain, and suffering. But then, Cassandra is pretty metal.
I feel her poetry helps me out when I’m feeling upset or pissed off. Sometimes I’m not very good at articulating this emotion, since I try to be a generally happy sloth. Cassandra’s work is weird, confrontational, depressed and a bit angry. That’s what I like about it. It does it well. I hope she continues to do this, since she appears to have just gotten started. Who knows where she’ll be, though she will not be the 2011 Poet Laureate, I think 2016 Poet Laureate is a goal within her reach.