Changing by Lily Hoang
rating: 4 of 5 stars
Lily Hoang has created something truly unique and altogether fantastic (in nearly every sense of the word) with this book.
I find this a hard book to really talk about. It’s perhaps best described as a book of oscillations, in craft and syntax as well as meaning and direction. It’s a book that circles in on itself as well as outward, swelling upward like an explosion while sinking into the depths like a whirlpool. Deafening in its unsuspecting force, but also at times in its silence.
This is a book that raises big questions (Are we to believe in fate? If so how seriously do we (should we) take it?)) while keeping itself grounded with an authentic, enjoyable poignancy and honesty that is generated in part from autobiographical themes that seem to course through a lot of Lily’s work. It’s an experiemental endeavor while at the same time struggling with its roots as a retelling of ancient fortunes.
Most importantly, it’s a delicate yet strong book; beautiful and ugly but always enjoyable.
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The Pedestal Magazine will be publishing my poem ‘Lusk at the Lake’ in their Februrary edition.
Edit: They just updated with the new issue. Enjoy!
The Hounds of No by Lara Glenum
rating: 5 of 5 stars
Absolutely incredible book of poetry. Probably one of the more ambitious and refreshing books I’ve read in a very long time. The aesthetic of the book, I’ll call it the ‘obscene surreal’ because I’m not articulate enough to describe it better than that, is both inspirational and humbling in just how well crafted it is. I often got the feeling of visiting several little words inside a much larger one — multiple series of poems that can stand on there own but shine with absolute brilliance within the context of the entire book.
There is a theme of repetition (of images, places, people) but the poems themselves never felt repetitive or re-hashed, something that I’ve found to be incredibly difficult to manage.
Action Books has a real gem here and I’m looking forward to reading Glenum’s other work.
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I received a call earlier this afternoon informing me that I have been accepted into Notre Dame’s MFA program!
Not really sure what to say, I’m still pretty much speechless and sure that at any moment they’re going to call back and say, ‘No, sorry, we meant to call the other Ryan Smith.”
It’s incredible that they’ve responded this early, but I was told that the selections committee all made identical initial picks, so that was pretty much that.
As sentimental as it may be, I do have to mention that today marks the anniversary of Jake’s death, which is a large reason that February is often a ‘bad month’ for me (the snow certainly doesn’t help). That the call came on today of all days means a great deal to me.