Engine Empire

Cathy Park Hong. Norton, $24.95 (96p) ISBN 978-0-393-08284-5
Hong’s third book renders a triptych of frontiers—the Old West, the new East, and the digital world—where artistic acts are often tantamount to subversion. “Ballad of Our Jim,” a sequence of cowboy ballads within ballads, follows a crew of outlaws and their kidnapped boy, a rebellious bard they christened “Jim,” through an unsettled age when “the whole country is in a duel and we want no part of it.” “Shangdu, My Artful Boomtown!” a mix of epistolary, prose, lyric, and persona poems, grapples with vocation and origin in a globalizing era, addressing directly and indirectly Shakespeare, Coleridge, and Berryman. Especially striking is “Adventures in Shangdu,” a sequence of prose poems depicting a dystopia whose citizens include a factory worker reproducing Rembrandts and a prawn vendor executed for “tilt[ing] his surveillance camera so it caught nothing but the sun.” Sharp and lyrical poems in “The World Cloud” take on digital realms, where “the search engine is inside us,/ the world is our display.” This book is full of luminous surprises. (May)
Reviewed on: 02/20/2012
Release date: 05/01/2012
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Open Ebook - 96 pages - 978-0-393-23926-3
Paperback - 95 pages - 978-0-393-34648-0
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