In Muriel Leung’s Bone Confetti, the poet writes, “The body, a violin that someone is always fingering.” I am haunted by this line and all that is hidden within the spaces in between. I am haunted by this book as a work of silence, as pain, as loss, as the book written as necessity. I t is a beautiful, difficult and unresolved work of art. Such is poetry. Such is life.
If the work of the elegy is, in part, to mitigate the experience of personal loss by submitting to shared linguistic conventions, then Muriel Leung’s Bone Confetti is a radical reimaging of what it might mean for a poet to mourn. Theatrical, rhapsodic, disjunctive, hypnotic—Leung’s art refuses to rein itself in, settle down, or make itself common, insisting instead on bursting over and over into a “spew flower” of exquisite melancholic oddity. “I know less and less about this world,” she writes, and true to her word, there is nothing mundane to be found in these pages. But of the under- and the otherworldly, Leung is an authority, and her book is an achievement of spectacular prowess and power.
Bone Confetti houses something else: an activity of mourning. The book does this in place of the other things it could have done. Or housed. It struck the bone of my own heart. It made the words into a bell. And the bell made me stop what I was doing, just as certain events or thoughts or scenes do, and orient to that unexpected, powerful sound. Leung is this kind of writer, whose book makes you want to come up with a new language to describe what a book could be, could feel like, to read. I am grateful for the chance to encounter her work at this time, in this part of the real year.
Muriel Leung’s Bone Confetti is a ravishing fever dream of an elegy that mourns both a mother figure and history. Leung’s poems can be unbearably intimate yet also epic, traversing into the speculative and gothic, as she animates her grief into a macabre and exquisitely haunted underworld much like Osip Mandelstam’s Tristia. In this book of specters, there are so many sonorous, uncanny, and sorrowful lines that inspire me to think and feel as Leung meditates on the politics of mourning and the ineluctable impossibility of happiness. Bone Confetti inaugurates a unique voice that will gain lasting prominence in American letters.
2015 Noemi Poetry Award Winner
Muriel Leung is a Kundiman fellowship recipient from Queens, NY. Her writing has appeared in The Collagist, Fairy Tale Review, Coconut, Ghost Proposal, Jellyfish Magazine, inter|rupture, and others. She is a regular contributor to The Blood-Jet Writing Hour poetry podcast as well as a poetry reader for Apogee Journal. She received her MFA in creative writing from Louisiana State University. Bone Confetti is her first poetry collection.
Reviews and News
The editors of Noemi Press are excited to announce the winners and finalists for the 2017 Noemi Press Book Award in Poetry.
Winner: UNMANNED by Jessica Rae Bergamino
We will be also publishing Inland Empire by Leah Huizar
Orient by Nicholas Gulig
Ochre/Orpheus by Meredith Stricker
Bodega by Su Hwang
STET by Dora Malech
We Are Too Big for This House by Sara Borias
The editors of Noemi Press are excited to announce the winners, finalists, and semi finalists for the 2016 Noemi Press Book Award in Poetry.
Winner: Indictus by Natalie Eilbert
Finalist: Careen by Grace Shuyi Liew
We will be also publishing Gentry!fication: or the scene of the crime by Chaun Webster and A Problem and Some Space by Hannah Ensor
The Devil’s Workshop by Xavier Cavazos
Hagia Animalia by Sara Biggs Chaney
Medusa Reads La Negra’s Palm by Elizabeth Acevedo
The Leaving Impulse by Rachel Martin
Manipur by Robin McLachlen
The Historians of Redundant Moments: Novel in Poems by Nandini Dhar
Northern Ledger by Kate Partridge
Probable Garden by Bronwen Tate
Saints and Cannibals by Robert Lunday
Winter Swimmers by Carolyn DeCarlo
Woman, Yielding by Andrea Blancas Beltran
un/documented—kentucky—songs by Steven Alvarez
The editors of Noemi Press are excited to announce the winners, finalists, and semi finalists for the 2015 Noemi Press Book Award in Poetry. We received about 400 poetry submissions this year and thank all the writers who submitted for trusting us with their work.
Bone Confetti by Muriel Leung
Natality by E. G. Means
MOUTHS by Claire Marie Stancek
We will also be publishing finalist Vanessa Villarreal’s manuscript Beast Meridian in the Akrilica series.
They Go In Pairs by Samuel Ace
Arcadia, Indiana (a tragedy) by Toby Altman
You Can Take It Out by Cheryl Clark Vermeulen
Red of Split Water-A Burial Rite by Lisa Donovan
Century Worm by Todd Fredson
Actual Echo by Matthew Mahaney
A Turkish Dictionary by Andrew Wessels
Vogel describes her early experiences of reading and writing as “a bridging between [her] voice and [her] body,” as a kind of communion. “Language slowed the world for me,” she recalls, “it gave me a sense of tactility, a skin to encase my thinking.” Vogel’s visceral experience of language is palpable in Between Grammars; there is a sense of tactility ever-present. Beyond the philosophical exploration, reading this book is as much a sensory experience as an intellectual one, the text shot through with light, sound, and touch.
Armendinger is a master at using fragmented language with precise purpose. His poems experiment with language and form—this collection includes a poem delivered in the form of an instant messenger conversation, and a poem placed as a footnote within another poem—but never read as mere avant-garde posturing. Instead, Armendinger again and again finds new ways to use defamiliarized language to access the unsayable.
It’s a rare and wonderful thing to find a poet who can so powerfully, vividly, and gracefully engage with the problems of language and the world. The Ghost In Us Was Multiplying is a vital book: experimental, substantial, fragmented, unified, unsettled, and unsettling, Armendinger’s work is key reading for all those who care about what our broken words can do.
Danielle Vogel’s book BETWEEN GRAMMARS is forthcoming in 2015, and in this profile she shares her “holy books” including Whitman, Plath, and Woolf, among others!
At Bloom Literary Journal, you can read the poem “Casual Sex” by Brent Armendinger, whose book The Ghost In Us Was Multiplying is forthcoming in January, 2015.
J. G. McClure reviewed Bruce Covey’s Change Machine for Cleaver Magazine:
Think about the change machine outside your car wash: you put in a dollar, the machine spits out coins. Not a neat bundle, but a jangling tray-full. Now think of William Carlos Williams: “A poem is a machine made of words.”Now give William Carlos Williams superpowers and have him beat the hell out of the car wash while musing on Pokémon, Barthes, and metapoetics, and you’ve got a sense of Bruce Covey’s Change Machine.
$15 Paperback | Published 2016