Hong Cover Age of Glass.jpg

“’The engine of alchemy / was rage. The small man's history of winning / was long but irrelevant,’ remarks Anna Maria Hong midway through Age of Glass. This caustic suite of ludic sonnets upcycles old stories—myths, fairytales, fables, clichés—into bright, prismatic spells for the end of days. ‘Slant reuses / the cant of the box,’ the canny speaker incants. ‘A palindrome pulse / recalibrates luck.’ Open this book to any page and you'll be met with lines so timely, so tonic, and so lexically dexterous you'll feel enchanted, however fleetingly, to cohabit this age.”

                                           —Suzanne Buffam, Judge’s Citation

Though “[d]one with iambics,” Anna Maria Hong's Age of Glass uses the sonnet’s other ancient materials to build a sequence song “out of all possible solutions.” That double preposition—"out of”—signals both invention and exhaustion, the hope and risk which come with deploying that old form in this latest age. But Hong will not oppose these senses, instead making invention from various forms of exhaustion: most of the poems are not content to rhyme only on their right margins, but anywhere else in the line as well (exhaustion as overabundance), while one sonnet uses only four words to do all its work (paucity as fatigue). This play of too much and not enough, what one sonnet calls a “few too / many or few too few,” isn't just a way through the problems of a form that dates back to the 13th century, it's a description of the disaster of our present age, its “capitalist / suicide songs” and “Liberticide.” The sonnet is the confinement of “the vox” to a kind of “box” (many of the sonnets have this word in their titles) and the box is both “a nation” and “a one-person show,” “all containment all the time.” For all the pleasure this book takes in its wits and sounds, in choosing new ways to sing in the optional cage of the sonnet, that pleasure feels at best “ferociously happy,” because the book knows too that there is no way as yet to get out of the “endless project” of an unjust present, which is only “our time to savage.” It takes wit to see the “age” in “savage,” but wit in Hong's work is pain made generous.

                                     —Geoffrey G. O’Brien, Judge’s Citation

 “Like the 17th-century Mexican poet Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, whose sonnets echo and upstage a notably male and European literary tradition, Anna Maria Hong demonstrates in her own labyrinthine sonnets 'the monstrous breadth' of her poetic abilities, offering in them radical interpretations of myths and fairy tales that speak to our time and dazzle us with their wit and linguistic virtuosity. No one is writing like Anna Maria Hong in this Age of Glass.”

                                                                                —Rosa Alcalá

“The titular glass seems to speak to the collection’s forms and materials—Hong’s language as a substance of glitter and shine, shaped under high heat, the finely wrought artifice of which can then be shattered and wielded as a formidable weapon.”

                                        —Dora Malech, from Kenyon Review

“The sonnet, that most venerable of verse forms, can never go out of fashion for long, because there's always someone out there revitalizing it. One such someone is Anna Maria Hong, whose terrific book, Age of Glass, consists almost exclusively of sonnets that revel in the intricacies of their artifice. Anna Maria Hong will build a poem on variants of a rhyme (misogynist, grist, zest, testy, beast), exulting in the surprises in store when you let the sounds of the words direct you to their meanings: ‘Like a moron one persists, like a priest / or catechist chanting at a bris.’ But her verbal brilliance is not all this poet offers. She gives us life in its raw vitality. We see through Age of Glass darkly but accurately. Sometimes she makes us laugh: ‘The fuck you in me crosses the street to / avert the fuck you in you.’ Fierce intelligence is always at work, whether the subject is a figure of myth or fable (such as Cassandra, Pandora, Circe, and Medea) or the ‘ages’ of woman and man.” 

                                                                          —David Lehman

“Anna Maria Hong's poems—in this case a book of astoundingly innovative sonnets—confirm to us the credo we store in our hearts: that with intelligence, musicality and a love of language poetry can make any subject compelling and revelatory. But it takes a poet with a rare talent like Anna Maria Hong to make us see and joyously declaim what we believe. Age of Glass is a book I've been hoping to read for a long time, from a poet whose work I've admired for a longer time.”

                                                                        —Khaled Mattawa
 

“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. . . .”

                                    —from Publishers Weekly starred review


 

“. . . Hong’s innovative sonnets elevate the natural and human world by preserving it, and yet these sonnets also break the glass or disfigure the glass, ‘it is our glass to raise and smash,’ to allow for deeper truths about sexism, misogyny, and power structures, to emerge… Hong works to expose cracks in the glass of language, fairytales, myths, and fables and with her pen she makes more cracks. In the Age of Glass, anything can break, and many things perhaps should be broken.” 

            —Anita Olivia Koester, from Green Mountains Review