Split Jpeg

Paperback Price: 15.95
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-938584-05-3

Selected Poem
Press Kit


I open my chest and birds flock out.
In my mother's garden, the roses flare
toward the sun, but I am an arrow

pointing back.
I am Persephone,
a virgin abducted.

In the Underworld,
I starve a season
while the world wilts

into the ghost
of a summer backyard.
My hunger open and raw.

I lay next to a man
who did not love me--
my body a performance,

his body a single eye,
a director watching an actress,
commanding her

to scintillate.

I was the clumsy acrobat.
When he came, I cracked open
like a pomegranate

and ate six ruddy seeds.

I was the whipping boy.
I was the thorny barbed wire
wound around a muscular heart.


Winner of the 2015 Norma Farber First Book Award
Academy of American Poets’ Standout Books of 2014 List

“[Cathy Linh] Che’s brave, rich, and poignant poems link the past and present while highlighting the pain of memory. Deceivingly simple, yet swelling with danger, they devastate the heart. With Split, Che marks herself as an important emerging poet.”

“Perhaps the writer’s most difficult task is to render the catastrophic linked non-stories that comprise transgenerational trauma. Cathy Linh Che’s collection Split accomplishes this nearly impossible challenge with uncommon grace and power. Each poem unwinds the cataclysm of personal wounding by making itself irresistibly beautiful.”
LA Review

Split raises difficult questions: how can one address trauma and history through words? How can wounds heal (if they can)? What role does form and craft play in the poetry of witness? There is a curiosity here that is both fearless and fearful.” —Warscapes

“[Split] is a dazzling planetary system, planets named Loss, named Rape, named Womanhood, named Silence, named Survival, orbit the collection’s primary speaker. . . Split is itself a dirge, a standing over the gravesite for a truly splitting past, a rifting shhh; it fills the silence with song and buries the memories that refuse to pass. . .”
American Microreviews

“[In Split,] Che effectively weaves the trauma of the Vietnam War into her own personal trauma, making herself a war victim—only her war is not against enemy combatants, but against her past.”
The Philadelphia Review of Books

“To be a daughter, a survivor, and a poet are all aligned in the need “to rewrite everything,” a need that [Cathy Linh Che] navigates with brutality and tenderness, devastation and irrepressible endurance.”
Publishers Weekly

“Cathy Linh Che’s first collection, Split, is a brave, delicate, and terrifying account of what we do to each other. Here’s a voice that has to speak. Split crosses borders, exposing truths and dreams, violations of body and mind, aligning them until the deep push-pull of silence and song become a bridge. And here we cross over into a landscape where beauty interrogates, and we encounter a voice that refuses to let us off the hook.”
—Yusef Komunyakaa

“In her debut collection Cathy Linh Che summons forth a daughter-self that jolts, blazes. It’s a voice that orbits a harrowing girlhood and a war-torn Vietnam. It’s a voice that veers into tenderness and ferocity. It’s an exquisite voice. Line after line burns with pictorial verve, melodic grace. This voice, this daughter-self, is a stunning and scorching performance.”
—Eduardo C. Corral

“Cathy Linh Che’s debut examines the complex ways in which the past imperils our present. In these heartbreaking poems, rape and abuse are not private traumas, but a terrible inheritance that continues through generations. Here, the Vietnam War becomes a psychic backdrop against which one family still struggles to heal, reliving past cultural wounds that traumatize, yet never define it.”
—Paisley Rekdal



  1. The Honey Badgers August 3rd at the Morris book shop | Accents Publishing Blog - July 25, 2014

    Agent (winner of the Kore First Book Award) and Cathy Linh Che of Brooklyn, NY, author of Split (winner of the Kundiman Poetry Prize) will make their Lexington debut together.

  2. A Review of 'Split' by Cathy Linh Che | diacritics.orgdiacritics.org - September 8, 2014

    […] Buy the book here. […]

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