I’m currently in a very sketchy Best Western in New Jersey contemplating the life choices that have led me to this point. I haven’t updated in fifteen years and what was supposed to be a short break due to school work became a lengthy hiatus, so I am deeply sorry about that. On the other hand, I read a book today, which shouldn’t be something I’m boasting about, but that’s where I’m at now.
Engine Empire by Cathy Park Hong, is a short volume of poetry trisected into three parts. As the backcover attests, it’s a trilogy in one work. In Hong’s revelatory words, the worlds of the wild west, pre- and post-industrial china and the nebulous realm of the internet come together to make a whole that works somehow. Hong is a phenomenally insightful and hugely creative poet; her poems vary widely in form and style, from prose poems to sonnets to ballads to more abstract fare. Within each form even, there is playful exploration of the sounds of words and something that touches at the very heart of what poetry is.
For instance, in section one, a poem entitled “Ballad of I” is…well I’ll let you read a sample for yourself:
O Boomtown’s got lots of sordor:
odd horrors of throwdowns,
bold cowboys lock horns,
forlorn hobos plot to rob
pots of gold, loco mobs
drool for blood, howl or hoot
for cottonwood blooms, throng
to hood crooks to strong wood posts.
The best way I can describe the volume as a whole, is that it hurtles. It’s something that lends itself easily to a one-sitting read, yet it is also one that makes you want to stop and savor.
The poem that left the deepest impression for me is probably “Of the Zoo on 6 Chrysanthemum Road”: (in its entirety)
The farmers used to worship the giant pelican which would open its pouched maw to drop down rain. writers worshipped spotted little men who would whisper fantastic plots in their ears while they slept. We now worship animals that exist. The porcupine. The civet cat. The snake. Even the ant. Our forests are vast empty chambers. Hike to the deepest heart of our mountains and you hear nothing except for the wind’s hiss of all that has shamed you. The zoo is the most popular attraction. One zookeeper cares for the only two sea turtles in the world. They are both 100 years old. Everyday, she snaps on gloves and then she gently massages the male turtle so that he may seed one day.
Also, I agree that we should slow this review train down to once a month. That seems doable in college, if you still want to continue it then?