cover image Age of Glass

Age of Glass

Anna Maria Hong. Cleveland State Univ. Poetry Center, $16 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-0-9963167-9-8

Hong torques the traditional sonnet in her exceptional debut collection, finding new ways to tease out eye-opening elements from the venerable form. Though she mostly resists end rhyme in favor of internal musicality, rarely does a reader encounter such successful, winking inner rhyme. In “A Parable,” one of the few non-sonnets here, Hong writes, “it was on to the hermitage, the last stage,// where we would presage the image of ecstasy/ and thus emboss our legacies.” Where other poems might bow under the weight of these sonics, or risk mimicking the limerick, in Hong’s deft hands the rhymes create a propulsive effect. She evokes the aged as often as the contemporary, filling her poems with religious iconography and Greek mythology as well as such modern affectations as “blah, blah, blah.” Yet as Hong shows in “The Ivory Box,” it is the human that stays sacred; her speaker avows, with an almost visible smile, “I’m the holy stuff,/ the nod blown up inside your head.” Here is a history that doesn’t progress but circles back on itself, the titular age revealed as a permanently fragile, transparent state. (Apr.)