“In Dears, Beloveds Kevin Phan has found a way, in form and rhythm, to reach into the ancient recesses of our imagination and to place what he finds there next to yesterday’s headlines. He provides little comment on the connection, yet it seems abundantly clear. Whatever he has done in these prose poems—and it does seem wonderfully mysterious—he can include popular culture and politics, Buddhist scripture and philosophy, family and immigrant history, mental illness and tragedy. Near the end he writes, ‘Despite our efforts to connect, we feel haunted by lonely.’ When I reflect on Dears, Beloveds, I remember the ‘lonely,’ but the connections feel very real.”
“It is a gift when a poet lets us know who they are, and in doing so, helps us understand what seemed unknowable in ourselves. Kevin Phan’s extraordinary Dears, Beloveds is a language experiment in the inner workings of grief—its crystalline truths, its kaleidoscopic perspectives, its stillness, its wry humor. Meditating on the loss of his mother to bone cancer and the cruelty of the political age we’re living in (and have lived in), Phan unearths revelation after revelation: ‘Truth be told, so much of our suffering happens alone’ or ‘It’s hard to put down roots in running water.’ Guided by emotional logic, these poems are both an indictment of ‘Our American failure to matter to each other. . . . Our I’m sorry for your loss’ and an invitation to imagine wildly what else is possible. We deserve a sacred language for how to survive, and you’re holding it in your hands.”
The prose poetry in Kevin Phan’s first collection, Dears, Beloveds, offers a fine-grained meditation on grief—personal, familial, ecological, and political. Informed by the author’s engagement with Buddhism & mindfulness, the poems address looming absences: in our vanishing earth, the scraps of a haunting voicemail, or waiting at hospice with little to do. In these pages, the poet fights his way out of isolation, to establish filigrees of connectedness with himself, other humans, and the natural world. Whether meditating on the bodily loss of his cancer-stricken mother, the Black Lives Matter movement, or a shadow falling from a speck of dust in the kitchen, these lines are notable for their crisp and surprising movements, lucid imagery, aching tenderness, & humanity. Dears, Beloveds reminds us of the ironies, beauty, and complexity of our time on earth, as beings in time. Where we hurt. Where we heal each other.
Kevin Phan lives in Colorado. He attended the University of Iowa (BA) and the University of Michigan (BFA). His poetry has previously appeared in Best New Poets, Gulf Coast, the Cincinnati Review, the Georgia Review, and many other fine journals. For a living, he works with the earth. Photography, mountain biking, backpacking, cooking, and organic gardening are a few of his hobbies. This is his first collection of poetry.