Cathy Song is the author of four previous books of poetry: Picture Bride, winner of the Yale Younger Poets prize; Frameless Windows, Squares of Light; School Figures; and The Land of Bliss.
These poems, threaded by the teachings of Buddha, examine loss—the death of a loved one, the longing for a child, the yearning for another place and time—and the suffering such attempts transpire, but ultimately the poems are an affirmation that to be born into human life is our greatest opportunity to transform loss and sorrow into awakening joy.
Cathy Song’s fourth collection of poetry unveils glimpses of the elusive but ever-present power of wisdom and compassion. Recognizing that we have the ability to create our own misery as well as our own bliss, she finds the unexpected in broken lives, despair, and even seemingly joyous occasions. Song’s poems are often, like a handful of water, “cold and impossibly / clear, unlike anything / you’ve ever held before.”
In choosing Cathy Song’s first book for the Yale Series of Younger Poets, Richard Hugo said that her poems are “bouquets to those moments in life that seemed minor but in retrospect count the most.”
In this, Song’s third book, the poems are like the school figures an ice skater etches onto the ice – the pen moving silently and deliberately across a white expanse of paper and experience, bringing maximum pressure to bear upon the blade of language to unlock “the invisible fire beneath the ice.”