The singular Jane Wong offers her distinct eye as she carefully unpacks the poems in Silent Anatomies in this review for Warscapes. A gorgeous excerpt:
The most impactful poems in Silent Anatmonies are the poems written on medicine bottles, with “directions” on the labels. Here, home remedies are rooted in value systems. These faux labels consider cultural conceptions of health, particularly gender value systems. In “Fortune Babies,” Ong writes: “Does not guarantee protection from bearing daughters. Consult your fortune teller if you suspect your pregnancy may be at risk.” In other medicine bottle poems, Ong offers dictionary entries on the label – interrogating linguistic colonialism. Such poems recall Harryette Mullen’s Sleeping With the Dictionary (2002). For instance, one bottle features an image of an older woman, followed by the words “withstood,” “withy” “witless,” “witling,” and “witness.” These words highlight our gender and age expectations – that we see older women as passive and “witless.” Ong exposes such shameful stereotypes throughout. Moreover, through these dictionary labels, she underscores the hierarchy of the English language, highlighting the “prescriptivism” of language as a silencing tool.
Recently, W. Todd Kaneko penned a breathtaking review of Silent Anatomies for Waxwing Literary Journal. I am deeply humbled but I want to draw attention to Todd's incredible insight and artful way of locating entry points into the book for readers.
"...Ong has built for Silent Anatomies a hybrid space in which paradox is sometimes the best answer, in which the simplest possible meanings contradict more than they provide insight. Or see the way Ong juxtaposes text and images in “The Onset” in ways that subvert our expectations not just of how poems work, but in how text and images work as we normally read a book."
I am so humbled and blown away by the insightful review of Silent Anatomies by poet Kenji Liu. He went beyond analysis of the formal qualities of the collection and really delved into the difficult questions of identity that I sought to explore. I appreciated his thoughtful inquiry, not only in terms of the personal, but in terms of how we contextualize ourselves socially, historically, and politically. How refreshing!