GalleyCrush: The Sunflower Cast a Spell to Save Us From the Void

by Staff

Today’s GalleyCrush is Jackie Wang’s The Sunflower Cast a Spell to Save Us From the Void, illustrated by Kalan Sherrard and forthcoming from Nightboat Books on January 26, 2021.

Perfect pitch: “A magnetic and spellbinding debut poetry collection that speaks in the language of dreams.”

First lines: “All I remember is the coppiced terrain I crossed to find a house to rest in. Who is the woman lurking in the woods? A fellow traveler. I’m not used to seeing others. She is lost and I am lost but the difference is she is a novice at being lost, whereas I have always been without country.”

Big blurb: “Jackie Wang’s new book asks questions that rotate/fluoresce against a backdrop or foreground of ceremonial apprenticeship, like sunflowers or the memories of sunflowers. In this other world, ‘survivor trauma’ is experienced by creatures and non-creatures alike. I was so moved by the mixtures of writing I encountered here: the ‘map’ of a dream, but also the notebooks that ‘fill up,’ not always in the English of waking time. ‘I want to write you without writing over you. I have something to tell you,’ the speaker says, with the delicacy and directness of a sentence written directly on the skin. Kalan Sherrard’s illustrations echo this way of marking the page: a mode of companionship and witness in a book that did not end because it did not begin. Is this what it feels like to be a person?” —Bhanu Kapil

Book notes: Paperback, poetry, 120 pages. 

Author bio: Jackie Wang is a PhD candidate in the department of African and African American studies at Harvard University, specializing in race and the political economy of prisons and police in the United States. She is the author of a number of punk zines including On Being Hard Femme, as well as a collection of dream poems titled Tiny Spelunker of the Oneiro-Womb. In 2018 she published Carceral Capitalism—a book on the racial, economic, political, legal, and technological dimensions of the U.S. carceral state—with Semiotext(e). She is currently an Arleen Carlson and Edna Nelson Graduate Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.