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Engine Empireby Cathy Park Hong
Synopses & Reviews
Engine Empire is a trilogy of lyric and narrative poems that evoke an array of genres and voices, from Western ballads to sonnets about industrialized China to fragmented lyric poems set in the future. Through three distinct yet interconnected sequences, Cathy Park Hong explores the collective consciousness of fictionalized boomtowns in order to explore the myth of prosperity. The first sequence, called "Ballad of Our Jim," draws inspiration from the Old West and follows a band of outlaw fortune seekers who travel to a California mining town during the 1800s. In the second sequence, "Shangdu, My Artful Boomtown!" a fictional industrialized boomtown draws its inspiration from present-day Shenzhen, China. The third and last section, "The World Cloud," is set in the far future and tracks how individual consciousness breaks up when everything--books, our private memories--becomes immediately accessible data. One of our most startlingly original poets, Hong draws together individual voices at odds with the world, voices that sing their wonder and terror.
"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 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." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"A brainy, glinting triptych . . . . Novelistic, meditative, offbeat, and soulful, Cathy Park Hong's poetry is many fathoms deep." --David Mitchell
This inventive trilogy of poems evokes an array of genres, from Western ballads to sonnets about industrialized China to fragmented lyrics set in a virtualized future. Cathy Park Hong, one of our most startlingly original poets, draws together individual voices at odds with the world--voices that sing their wonder and terror.
from "Market Forces Are Brighter than the Sun" My Aleph, My Grand Dame, My Turks
About the Author
Cathy Park Hong teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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