by Vi Khi Nao & Sun Yung Shin



ISBN 978-1-938900-54-9
Publication Date: August 2024
Perfect-bound, 106 pages, 7″x9″
Read Press Release (PDF)



Six Tones of Water is an experimental, collaborative poetry manuscript co-written in real time in one document. Word play, translations, and other chimerical births and rebirths of language ride the waves of spontaneous, even divinatory writing, as the borders and blurriness of consciousness make marks on the page. Language’s opacities and transparencies and un-translatabilities create a sort of stickiness, in the throat, the mind, the body, the text; mutual understanding is attained through asymmetries, gaps, noise, silence, lacunae, and also wonder, sounds, tones, violence, forgetting, memory, and beauty. Here, English, a colonial language, is a medium, a plasma, a fourth state of matter, perhaps. On the page, if not in sociopolitics, life spans, and uneven distributions of suffering, there is a kind of restive quality.




What does it mean to be both inside and outside a language? Three languages? Vi Khi Nao and Sun Yung Shin, in Six Tones of Water 물의여섯소리, mul-eui yeoseot sori, SÁU ÂM VANG CỦA NƯỚC, a poetic conversation written in real time, blur the bodies of the two poets and the materiality of Vietnamese, Korean, and English languages. This book is an immigrant’s, an adoptee’s, a postcolonial subject’s ecotone of metamorphic Weltanschauungen that move like “Translucent ghosts [following the speakers’] shadows home from a temple.” This coming together of poets in conversation shifts like tectonic plates: pushing language up into mountian-like peaks and creating vast rifts to be filled with the reader’s own waters. A book, this one here, is a raft to ride to the other shore of decolonial meaning.
– Rajiv Mohabir


In this exhilarating book, VI KHI NAO & SUN YUNG SHIN, two masters of their craft, take complete control of three languages and turn them inside out and weave them into a tapestry depicting the beauty, the limitation & the absurdity of each and all of them. And in doing so, it is as if they’ve invented a new language altogether in Six Tones of Water, one that will serve them and not the other way around. As a reader, I felt liberated. This book and these two poets reminded me I don’t have to stop where language tells me to stop. I can simply fly over it.
– Chiwan Choi




신 선 영 辛善英 Sun Yung Shin (she/they) was born in Seoul, Korea. She is the award-winning author of four books of poetry, most recently The Wet Hex, author or co-author of three picture books for young readers, most recently Where We Come From, and editor or co-editor of three anthologies of essays, most recently What We Hunger For: Refugee and Immigrant Stories About Food and Family. She lives in Minneapolis with her family. She is a recent MacDowell Fellow and the recipient of several awards and fellowships.


VI KHI NAO is the author of seven poetry collections, the short stories collection A Brief Alphabet of Torture (winner of the 2016 FC2’s Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Prize), and the novel, Swimming with Dead Stars. Her poetry collection The Old Philosopher won the Nightboat Books Prize for Poetry in 2014. She was the Fall 2019 fellow at the Black Mountain Institute.  Her work includes poetry, fiction, film and cross-genre collaboration. She was the 2022 recipient of the Jim Duggins PhD Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize.



Book design by David Wojciechowski.

Contact Us


Gold Line Press & Ricochet Editions

c/o Ph.D. in Creative Writing & Literature

3501 Trousdale Parkway, THH 431

Los Angeles, CA  90089-0354


Gold Line Press: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Ricochet Editions: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram