Poet and performer Hieu Minh Nguyen will speak at Liberty Hall next week as part of a lecture series sponsored by The Commons and the Raven Book Store.
Nguyen is a Kundiman fellow, the recipient of the 2017 National Endowment for the Arts fellowship for poetry, and a poetry editor for Muzzle Magazine. Nguyen will speak Tuesday, March 5 at 7 p.m.
“I’m really interested to hear what he’s like as a person, to meet him and hear him present to an audience because I think that his book is so revealing and intimate in so many ways that it’ll be very interesting when he’s right in front of us,” Emily Ryan, the director of The Commons, said.
Nguyen is the author of “Not Here,” his second collection of poems, which was published last year. Nguyen’s poetry explores his identity as a queer Vietnamese American. Danny Caine, the owner of the Raven Book Store and a 2017 University graduate, said Nguyen also discusses the trauma he’s faced in his poetry collections.
Last year, The Commons and the Raven Book Store started a campus and community speaker series in which they invited authors and speakers to perform at Liberty Hall. The mission of the series is to invite people from underrepresented backgrounds and identities whose work will resonate with the University and Lawrence communities.
“I love to do what I can to help raise the profile of poetry in Lawrence and in the world,” Caine said.
Caine said after reading Nguyen’s second collection of poems, he’s excited to see how Nguyen performs on the stage.
“I love to see how these poets work on the page but also on the stage,” Caine said.
The event is also sponsored by several offices across campus, including the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity, the Emily Taylor Center for Women and Gender Equity, the Office of Research, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Office of the Provost.
“I think that him being here will connect with communities and groups of people who don’t always feel welcome on campus,” Ryan said.
Ryan also said she thinks Nguyen’s message will resonate with those of underrepresented identities.
Throughout the campus and community speaker series the past year, Ryan said people have come up and said to her, “It’s so powerful for me to see somebody who looks like me on the stage.”
“I think that’s something I can’t hear loud enough,” Ryan said.
Doors will open one hour before the event. The event is free, but tickets are required and available at no cost. Nguyen’s books will be for sale at the event, which will be followed by a book signing.