Congratulations to Anna Maria Hong, whose debut collection of poetry, Age of Glass (CSU Poetry Center, 2018), won the Norma Faber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America!!
Though "[d]one with iambics," Anna Maria Hong's Age of Glass uses the sonnet's other ancient materials to build a sequence song "out of all possible solutions." That double preposition—"out of"—signals both invention and exhaustion, the hope and risk which come with deploying that old form in this latest age. But Hong will not oppose these senses, instead making invention from various forms of exhaustion: most of the poems are not content to rhyme only on their right margins, but anywhere else in the line as well (exhaustion as overabundance), while one sonnet uses only four words to do all its work (paucity as fatigue). This play of too much and not enough, what one sonnet calls a "few too / many or few too few," isn't just a way through the problems of a form that dates back to the 13th century, it's a description of the disaster of our present age, its "capitalist / suicide songs" and "Liberticide." The sonnet is the confinement of "the vox" to a kind of "box" (many of the sonnets have this word in their titles) and the box is both "a nation" and "a one-person show," "all containment all the time." For all the pleasure this book takes in its wits and sounds, in choosing new ways to sing in the optional cage of the sonnet, that pleasure feels at best "ferociously happy," because the book knows too that there is no way as yet to get out of the "endless project" of an unjust present, which is only "our time to savage." It takes wit to see the "age" in "savage," but wit in Hong's work is pain made generous. (Geoffrey G. O’Brien)
Congratulations to Shaelyn Smith, whose debut collection of essays, The Leftovers, won CLMP’s Firecracker Award for best creative nonfiction published by an indie press.
The strength and poignancy of Shaelyn Smith's The Leftovers rests in the work itself not being easily categorized. Emerging out of a critical engagement—one might even say a fixation—with Judy Chicago’s iconic feminist art installation The Dinner Party housed at the Brooklyn Museum, The Leftovers encapsulates feminist testimony, art criticism, and personal discovery while rendering the visual as tactile and vivid. Smith goes well beyond asking who has been brought to the table and who has been left out—she erects platforms for voices and perspectives, both historical and contemporary, that speak to how historical recovery can also be a trap. The viewpoints she brings together offer universal truths held by individuals and community through a tightness in structure, voice, and overall composition. With prose that encourages a kind of infectious curiosity, Smith cracks open what writing about art can mean for how we read the world around us. The Leftovers is singularly engaging and as essential to our shelves as it is to our everyday dialogue.