Someone standing at the mouth had the idea to enter. To go further than light or language could go. As they followed the idea, light and language followed like two wolves—panting, hearing themselves panting. A shapeless scent in the damp air ... Keep going, the idea said. Someone kept going. Deeper and deeper, they saw others had been there. Others had left objects that couldn’t have found their way there alone. Ocher-stained shells. Bird bones. Grounded hematite. On the walls, as if stepping into history, someone saw their purpose: cows. Bulls. Bison. Deer. Horses— some pregnant, some slaughtered. The wild- life seemed wild and alive, moving when someone moved, casting their shadows on the shadows stretching in every direction. Keep going, the idea said again. Go ... Someone continued. They followed the idea so far inside that outside was another idea.
Paul Tran is a Vietnamese-American poet, activist, and historian. Since 2013, Paul has coached the poetry slam teams at Brown University, Barnard College & Columbia University, and Washington University in St. Louis.
Paul was the first Asian American since 1993—and first transgender poet ever—to win the Nuyorican Poets Cafe Grand Slam, placing top 10 at the Individual World Poetry Slam and top 2 at the National Poetry Slam. A two-time winner of the Rustbelt Poetry Slam, Paul has served as Poet-in-Residence at Urban Word NYC and head poetry slam coach at Urban Arts Alliance in St. Louis, which won the Brave New Voices Grand Slam Championship in 2019.