by Anna Maria Hong
A hybrid-genre carnivalesque of trauma and rebirth, Fablesque harnesses the power of old tales to dispel the disenchantments of women and animals in the #MeToo era.
Published: September 2020
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“Anna Maria Hong is a genius poet of fairytale language and conventions. In Fablesque, Hong explores the grammar of horror and hunger, survival and abuse across the contorted historical, cultural, and familial terrains of the Korean diaspora. Fablesque speaks an unflinching language, the language of translation, the translation of unspeakable historical and personal tragedy.” —Don Mee Choi
“Anna Maria Hong has built a cage, a bestiary, a chamber, a barn, a Fablesque book with breathtaking and very strange grace. These poems are haunted by fairy tales, awakened to history, apprehensive about gender, and most of all kind. Hong has a rhythmic and talented soul. This new collection cements her status as an important 21st century feminist fabulist.” —Kate Bernheimer
“It’s all here! Fabulous retelling! Hellenistic cracking! Animal hacking! Multiple histories! Novelty rimes! So much fun!” —Marilyn Chin
“Anna Maria Hong cannot be fooled. Not by the legends of the Fathers, nor by the glare of the powerful. She sees through them, she points out the cracks in the airtight world of meanings, and declares that the order of things is nothing but rambling; simultaneously she takes a step back from her lucidity and considers us humans with the compassion with which wolves, dogs, and all the other little animals should be regarded.”
“It’s difficult to leave this book alone. Even a first reading foments rebellion in the rest of our hours: we need to return to it, to bask, to learn. We have to keep looking around the house for Hong’s book, as it travels to every latest chair. Come to Fablesque for the menu. Stay for the music. Pine for second helpings. Satiety, satiety, satiety.”
—David Epstein in Heavy Feather Review
“”Over centuries, when heat and pressure are applied to carbon, diamonds are formed deep inside the earth’s hold. Hong’s applied pressure and poetic feminist language provide the ‘torque’ which upends our expectations of the original fables; under her astute crafting they become new luminous stones, which gleam as she sets them into place.” —Green Mountains Review
A hybrid-genre carnivalesque of trauma and rebirth, Fablesque harnesses the power of old tales to dispel the disenchantments of women and animals in the #MeToo era. Told in three acts, the first section comprises a bestiary blending fiction and myth; and personal essay, prose poem, and verse to speak to the reverberations of colonialist violence and war on the Korean peninsula long after the initial events. Section two meditates on places local (Seattle’s Ballard Locks) and otherworldly (the Moon) from to deliver the perspectives of creatures small (a lunar dog) and mighty (Hello Kitty) as they contemplate planet Earth. The final section channels the voices of beasts and women in experimental sonnets to speak to the peculiarities of our time, as we speed toward apocalypse in a corrupt and dying empire.
Harnessing folktale, fairy tale, and collage, the poems embrace constraint as a starting point for liberating new content and for addressing constructions and intersections of gender, race, power, and time. The collection embraces the great feminist tradition of retelling old tales to imbue them with female subjectivity, speaking to the thoughts, desires, and outrage of contemporary American women.
Anna Maria Hong is the author of the novella H & G (Sidebrow Books), winner of the A Room of Her Own Foundation’s Clarissa Dalloway Prize, and Age of Glass, winner of the Cleveland State University Poetry Center’s First Book Poetry Competition and the Poetry Society of America’s 2019 Norma Farber First Book Award. Her second poetry collection, Fablesque, won Tupelo Press’s Berkshire Prize and is forthcoming in June 2020. A former Bunting Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, she has published poetry and fiction in over 70 journals and anthologies including The Nation, The Iowa Review, Harvard Review, Poetry Daily, Best New Poets, and The Best American Poetry. She joined the Literature faculty at Bennington College in 2018.
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