The Bees Make Money in the Lion

Mei-encw copy.jpg
Mei-encw copy.jpg

The Bees Make Money in the Lion


Poems | Lo Kwa Mei-en | April 2016
76 pgs

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* Winner of the 2015 CSU Poetry Center Open Book Competition, Selected by Lesle Lewis, Shane McCrae, & Wendy Xu *

“The poems in Lo Kwa Mei-en’s second collection, The Bees Make Money in the Lion, contain distinctly recognizable images and ideas that are twisted via feverish diction into surreal narratives and hyperdynamic forms. Her play with and reinvention of traditional forms such as sonnets and abcedarian poems mirror the arc of a book where constraint and liberation are not abstractions but have profound emotional and moral consequences.”

Praise for The Bees Make Money in the Lion

The Bees Make Money in the Lion is a journey across a dizzying landscape of immigrants and androids, of alien romance and ele­gies. Here we encounter a language that is both familiar and es­tranging: phones burble, voices tune by ‘auto-fable,’ and we are kicked ‘in the essay.’ Lo Kwa Mei-en is a formalist trickster: her aubades, sonnets, and pastorals are like none you’ve ever read be­fore, stuttering with rapid-fire rhymes and repetitions, pulling you through unexpected swerves. Reading this remarkable collection is like ‘downloading a copy of a consciousness FAQ,’ finding within it a fractured yet powerful voice. ‘Voltas fail’ and forms falter, but Lo Kwa Mei-en’s poems declare: ‘here we are, unhurt nowhere, / editing violence until we dawn.’”
—Timothy Yu

“If rapture is a dizzy ecstasy brought on by a love no deeper than a hot mouth, then call me taken in and taken over. Lo Kwa Mei-en’s The Bees Make Money in the Lion is bawdiness and bombast, a babel of tongues locked and loaded, vowel-drunk and pledging allegiance to the bones of a lion. These downloaded colonists and conquerors masquerading as citizens romance the future, drag you to the edge by your treacherous light. I want to lick these poems from z to a, wear this sonnet crown like a riddled king of this alien kingdom and its honeyed kingdom come.”
—Traci Brimhall

“Lo Kwa Mei-en’s second collection rings with ‘bravado’s vibratto.’ Her honeyed roar, itself golden and generously gilding, acknowl­edges an echo’s willingness to submit, and cries ‘Lo!’ instead: clev­er reverberation in her ‘self-landscape’ as she recites ‘a fable with no phobia.’ Here, the alien non-citizen disassembles the colony by naming its simulacrum of fear in varying degrees of intimacy: the tourist, the migrant, the stranger, the immigrant. This is ‘the futurist’s job.’ In The Bees Make Money in the Lion, the hive serves as metaphor for a postmodern diaspora—to be at the mercy of a swarm, compliant within the biblical irresistible, an actor in a dys­topian myth disguised as reality. Lo Kwa Mei-en’s speaker pledges not to nation but to story. Her exquisite execution of form works to mythify this speaker, rendering her super capable.”
—Ladan Osman

Lo Kwa Mei-en is the author of Yearling (Alice James Books, 2015), winner of the Kundiman Poetry Prize, and two chapbooks, The Romances (The Lettered Streets Press) and Two Tales (Bloom Books). She lives and works in Cincinnati.

Selected Reviews

The Bind

Publishers Weekly


Gulf Coast

More Information

“Aubade for Non-Citizens” at Poetry Society of America

“Transmission from the Factory” in Pinwheel Journal

“The Alien Crown” in PEN Poetry Series

Book Interview with CSU Poetry Center