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The Same-Different


Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets

72 pages / 6.00 x 9.00 inches / no illustrations

ebook available


  Paperback / 9780807160091 / April 2015
Deceptively straightforward and subtly pyrotechnic, the poems in Hannah Sanghee Park’s debut collection captivate with their wordplay at first glance, then give rise to opportunities for extended reflection. “If / truth be told, I can’t be true,” she writes, but her startling juxtapositions of sound and meaning belie that claim, necessitating a search for the truth behind her semantic games.
Here are dozens of brief sentences that can serve as epigrams to undermine our ordinary ways of seeing, as Park’s playfully deployed puns recall the sly paradoxes of Oscar Wilde. The Same-Different ranges from the wonders of the natural world to close human relationships, occasioning the kind of explorations offered in “And A Lie”: “The asking was askance. / And the tell all told. / So then, in tandem // Anathema, and anthem.”

HANNAH SANGHEE PARK earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She has received fellowships and honors from the Fulbright Program, the Poetry Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, and others. She lives and works in Los Angeles, where she was a fellow in the CBS Writing Program.

Praise for The Same-Different

“Park's debut, winner of the 2014 Walt Whitman Award, astounds through the incredible sharpness with which she spots the knotted roots inside the English language, the way she dissects words to reveal how they contain and engender one another, and the way she breaks these words apart. . . . For Park, a meticulous and alluring eviscerator of language, everything hinges on this question, and her refusal to fall back on hope is oddly triumphant in its bleakness.”—Publishers Weekly

“Puns are the highest and lowest form of wordplay. . . . Hannah Sanghee Park's first book of poems  makes invigorating use of this most maligned literary device. Her poems send the mind racing down the rabbit holes Park digs for it. . . . A refreshingly physical reading experience. . . . An astounding first book.”—The Stranger

“Park transforms words into worlds of insight that feel utterly new -- yet they pay homage to many poetic traditions, to many poets. The poems seem finally created out of exceptional reverence -- while at the same time moving on and away from what has come before.”—Carol Muske-Dukes, Huffington Post

“Park’s poems are at their best when they trap us within such paradoxes: making the selves and feelings they describe seem completely undone yet inescapable. . . . This collection reminds readers of the capaciousness of language poetry’s verbal and emotional range.”—Los Angeles Review of Books

“Dazzles with word-play and nearly missable meanings which demand a second reading.”—BUST Magazine

“The most potent love-charms don’t come in glass vials, they come in words—not pledges of desire, not promises of ardor, but words that are themselves examples of the amorous crisis. Hannah Sanghee Park has written a charmed book whose sense of urgency reaches back past the sophistications of signifier and signified to that time when words worked within themselves a fearful magic, when rhyme and form were no mere prosody, but the alchemical means by which word transforms into world. The erotic poem isn’t ‘about’ love, it is itself love’s demonstration. Park winnows words in impossible ways, throwing phonemes up in the air to find diverse seeds already blooming—’a vole, an ant’ from volant; ‘a sieve vs. vase’ from evasive—trusting that words contain secrets one must toil in to discover nothing less than ‘how does a thing feel real.’ It’s only through such serious forms of play that love as a condition, not merely an emotion, becomes possible. Park shows us how to open language up, to make art and earth and hearth, and so let us endure the fragility of that singular syllable, the human heart.”—Dan Beachy-Quick, author of Circle’s Apprentice

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