Eleven Miles to June

Eleven Miles to June, a debut poetry collection from Oakland, California author, Ha Kiet Chau, focuses on a woman’s journey from childhood to adulthood—her movements, her nuances in black and white, in technicolor and sound. The poems explore themes such as self-identity, gender, assimilation, culture, women’s issues, and social challenges.

Advance Praise

“In a voice that is resilient, buoyant, and strong, Ha Kiet Chau’s poems deal with longing, displacement and connection.  Eleven Miles to June is intensely intimate; the voice is confiding yet bold: no experience is off-limits. Every moment of happiness as well as dismay is recorded in lines as beautiful as they are memorable.”  

John Skoyles, author of Suddenly It’s Evening: New & Selected Poems 

“Eleven Miles to June is an impressive debut, an intimate look at building and re-building various paths toward and through adulthood. Gifting its readers with surprising imagery and idea, this collection stuns with a precise but unique sorrow. Ha Kiet Chau’s poetry never wavers in its strength and is a welcome intrusion on the senses. The result is a beautifully written book that’s easy to fall for and into.”

April Michelle Bratten, Editor-in-Chief, Up the Staircase Quarterly

“Ha Kiet Chau’s poems are surreal, tender, volatile, sometimes brutal, but always blisteringly beautiful. Eleven Miles to June reads like a Chinese-Vietnamese-American creation myth—epic, chaotic, and harrowing in its movement from nothing to something.  Chau captures the ignominy of a child’s being caught in a vise between the old country and the new country, but also the emergence like a gorgeous butterfly of the rebellious youth to sexual and artistic awakening. Resilience is power. As the speaker says in ‘A Mélange at 12:19,’ ‘Let’s not look for a happy ending. / There’s more to our story.’”  

Ann Neelon, Former Editor, New Madrid

“Ha Kiet Chau’s poetry is a vivid synesthesia of images and lyrical syntax fused with something reminiscent of Rimbaud’s most carnival moments. There is a hunger here packed with tension as well as a curious and hilarious spirit that’s funtastic to follow. The ‘gurgling stomach, / lunging wolf mouth’ of this verse reverberates through a phantasmagoria of dreamlike journeys, family stories, human interactions and cultural reflections that can be tangibly tasted. Call it surreal, call it the new millennial Chinese-Vietnamese-California experience, call it an imagination that can ‘outrun wolves but can’t escape / the lost child,’ or call it Eleven Miles to June. In the poet’s own words, ‘a lioness has broken / out of her cage.’”

Mark Spitzer, Toad Suck Éditions

“The alchemy of helplessness and hope sets the tone of this collection: though its world is heavy with threat, Chau distils the brutality of alienation through the alembic of a poetic sensibility and sees what might perhaps be grains of gold. Everyone is alien in the promised land. Strangers are felons, fathers bring ‘black thunder’ and mothers fail. In ‘Stillbirth’ there’s a heartbeat and then the anguish of silence. Though this world has moments of delicate colour, the poet’s voice insists: ‘I must keep roaming / ’til I see gold’. We might see it too. But first, ‘We stare at our impending futures through beaten eyes.’ There’s no easy redemption: the speaker can ‘outrun wolves but can’t escape / the lost child’. Nevertheless, she discovers that ‘There is a freedom to my stride’ and, at last, ‘The city is not in shambles, / it is dressed in crimson and gold.’” 

Martin Alexander, Editor-in-Chief of the Asia Literary Review

“In this collection, Ha Kiet Chau’s poetry takes you with her—corner-turns in stories, arresting still-shot images, inventive metaphors—combining the pleasure and challenge of surprises with the confidence to let you keep up. Her diction’s strict accuracy combines with playful honesty to wring power and delight out of remarkable economy. Through supple, illustrative descriptions and lessons, readers will come to know and appreciate the voice and character of this deep-perceiving, wonder-embracing poet who sees and represents American life from the essential perspective of someone accessing and bridging cross-cultural experiences of natives, immigrants, travelers and visitors— temporary inhabitants all.”

Chris Weidenbach, Creative Writing instructor
& English department chair, Laney College, Oakland CA

“Ha Kiet Chau’s poetry weaves together exquisite language with an ample supply of hope and heart. In Eleven Miles to June, we travel alongside her through city streets and clashing cultures, to old memories, dreams, and realities, until we see and understand her—and ourselves—just a little bit more. With a sure hand, she guides us through these disasters, ecstasies, and everyday moments, noticing everything, and treating each one with the sensitivity and thought it deserves. Ha’s poems are a joy to read, taking your breath away one moment, making you lean in for the next line, and then ultimately putting a new resolve in your step. I love every word of this book. I want to keep it nearby for the moments I need courage, inspiration, or just to read some amazing poetry.”

Amy Keller, Editor, The Lincoln Underground

“In Ha Kiet Chau’s fearless first book, Eleven Miles to June, she opens by declaring, ‘I’m nobody’s daughter, / nobody’s woman…/ I’m untouchable / indestructible,’ and through this fierce lens she shows her family’s immigration to an America where all the survivors ‘stare at our impending futures through beaten eyes.’ And yet it is Chau’s clear eye for the key telling detail that makes the poems both uncomfortably visceral and beautifully delicate as they stand ‘at the crossroads of reality and make-believe.’ She’s willing to look anywhere between exile and home, cut and stitch, loss and hope, and this is Chau’s great gift: gathering and reconciling all these broken parts to make them whole again with this remarkable collection.” 

Lindsay Wilson, author of No Elegies

About the Author
Ha Kiet Chau’s poems have been widely published in 80+ literary journals in the UK, US, and Asia. Her publications include Ploughshares, Asia Literary Review, New Madrid, Tule Review, andColumbia College Literary Review, among others. Her first chapbook Woman Come Undone, was published by Mouthfeel Press in 2014. She has also received nominations for the Pushcart Prize, Best New Poets, and Best of the Net from various print and online literary journals.

SPECS
Eleven Miles to June
by Ha Kiet Chau
POETRY | Paperback Original
130 pages; 5.5 x 8.5 / Softcover
ISBN: 978-1-9505841-4-7
$14.95
Pub Date: July, 2021 

Distributor: IPG; also available through Baker & Taylor, Ingram, and other wholesalers.
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