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poetry collections


Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé

[Glass Lyre Press / Squircle Line Press]

128 pages

“In conversation with Walter Abish’s Alphabet Africa and Blackalicious’s 'Alphabet Aerobics,' Desmond Kon’s The Wrong/Wrung Side of Love is a confabulation of desire and a prognosis of tender passion. It is a curling of poetic weight: each line pushes lactic acid through our muscles into euphoria—the euphoria of the lyric—and Kon is a champion power lifter.”

Lily Hoang

Recipient of PEN Beyond Margins Award

“Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé has chosen to use the alphabet as ground zero for his remarkable book of poetry. In this clever, witty and sharply literate collection, A is for Acceptance, D is for Denial, E is for Examination, etc. These are not just setups for wordplay, though clever wordplay is rampant, but they are signposts for a poet’s journey toward meaning. 'E is for the examined life, just because,' the author says, and, 'you can examine silence.' Many of the poems are conversational, even built on conversations, and, as reader, I found myself nodding, wanting to join the discussion. Read this book for its liveliness and you will be rewarded with hidden depths, sharp insight and an examination not just of silence, but of speech, of what it means to be human.”

Corey Mesler

Author of Memphis Movie and The Catastrophe of my Personality


Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé

[Ethos Books / Squircle Line Press]

176 pages

“No one writes quite like Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé. It is not just that he has found new forms (though he has), not just that his syntax is a rarity (it is), not just that he has something to say that has, somehow, not been said before (it hasn’t). In other hands, the new, the rare, the as-yet-unsaid is not always pleasurable, not always beautiful, not always delicious. This book though is a feast of juxtapositions, a mélange of miscegenations, an impossibility of conversations, from the complex simplicity of the poems (like a blue belt) to the roughening texture of the essays (like a cat’s tongue). I consider it one of the triumphs of my efforts as an editor to have published several of these beautiful enigmas in Xavier Review.”

Richard Collins

Dean of Arts and Humanities

California State University Bakersfield

“Desmond Kon’s Babel Via Negativa is a menagerie: Peek inside and find tweets suspended in hypotaxis, an intertextual roundtable about the chicken that couldn’t cross the road, and essays that smash poetics with Kon’s distinctive transnational sass. This is a book of collapsing boundaries. This is a book of defiant aphorisms and salacious reverie.”

Lily Hoang

Recipient of PEN Beyond Margins Award


Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé

[Glass Lyre Press / Squircle Line Press]

128 pages

“A playlist, a syllabus, a rollcall and a spell, Phat Planet Cometh is a righteous act of literary vengeance for Unica Zürn, Freud’s Dora, Virginia Woolf, and any other figure of illicit femininity who has been straitjacketed by society’s regime of compulsory wellness. In the examination room, on the dark side of the moon, ‘A is for one more apocalypse against the rest of them.’ ”

Joyelle McSweeney

Recipient of Leslie Scalapino Prize

“Can a setlist save our lives anymore than a poet or a psychotherapist? This obsessively compulsive collection verges on martial disorder as it tries to impose alphabetic order on contemporary chaos. Eschewing lyrical narcissism for a communal dialectics, Desmond Kon comes to rescue a planet from psychic alienation with his deadpan delivery of cosmic soundbytes siphoned from the blathosphere.”

Timothy Liu

Recipient of Norma Farber First Book Award

“On a red planet where cynicism wars against authentic emotion, pop culture infects conversation with a veneer of banality, but don’t be fooled: Desmond Kon’s Phat Planet Cometh brims with philosophy and feminism, intertextuality and sophistication. This book promises supple satisfaction.”

Lily Hoang

Recipient of PEN Beyond Margins Award


Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé

[Glass Lyre Press / Squircle Line Press]

144 pages

“An incredible banquet of a book, packed to the gills with international literatures and gastronomies, starring a huge array of cultures, writers, philosophers, artists, mindsets. As in any notable, capacious menu, there is something here for every palate: prose, poetry, theory, emotion, big ideas, the transient and the eternal: Gertrude Stein, Annie Lennox, de Sade, Melanie Klein, Matisse, dolphin meat, durian, breast milk, chocolate violets. Bon appetit, dear reader!”

Amy Gerstler

Recipient of National Book Critics Circle Award

“Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé’s catholic taste, generous spirit, and love of great writing is everywhere evident in this wild, risky, heartfelt book.”

Michael Ryan

Recipient of Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award

“When asked by an interviewer what inspires his poetry, Desmond responded: ‘Anything. Anything that I can frame in a moment.’ This much is true of FOODPORN, which does linger on foodstuff, but also zooms in on office hours, great writers, wars, the Cambodian sex trade, the Marquis de Sade, Julia Kristeva and the movies. But even as the poems threaten to erupt out of their frames — whether the frame of poem, or form, or genre, or book — they (un)fold into meditations on the spirit. My favorite character here is St. Francis. It is through occasional dialogues with Francis that the book moves from foodporn to transcendence, from darkness to a faith that ‘love never dies.’ The bookmark may be an old Toblerone wrapper, but this book belongs to the saints.”

Susan M. Schultz

Founding Editor of Tinfish Press

“ ‘No chronology or steady story in this nouveau noir,’ says a narrator. This is an aspect that appeals to me in an ‘illimitable triptych’ of small moments where voices that are ‘happy to be dark’ reflect on life and death. An intriguing selection where allusions to religion and philosophy juggle ironically with motifs of food, and poems on the seven last words of Christ juxtapose with a suggestion that ‘mayonnaise’ might be a perfect final word for a book.”

Mandy Pannett

Author of The Onion Stone and All The Invisibles


Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé

[Glass Lyre Press / Squircle Line Press]

128 pages

“Contemporary haiku has many faces, and poetic experiments are the best way to explore the full potential of this form. Should we still faithfully follow Japanese masters in these modern times? Does it begin with form and change poet by poet? In Mirror Image Mirage, you have the chance to see the world in a different way. Desmond Kon’s astute observations and brilliant images will help you begin to discover haiku’s many diverse facets.”

Gabriel Sawicki

Editor of Wild Plum Haiku

“The progression of form and content in Mirror Image Mirage is a compelling experiment to see how haiku and micropoetry fit within the conversation of literary and artistic movements, and into our daily lives.”

Aubrie Cox

Frogpond Editor, Haiku Society of America

“In Mirror Image Mirage, Desmond Kon plays with haiku poetics — writing poems that shift quickly from haiku perceptions to postmodern narrative voices questioning the ability of language to bear significance. Literary theory becomes narrators and subjects and images in his short poetic sequences. With haiku-like stanzas, these poems employ quick haiku-cut shifts in direction and tone to engage the reader with an imagined mirage. With Kon’s sequences, we don't see through language. Language sees us imagining.”

Randy Brooks

Editor of Mayfly

“Set aside everything you know — or think you know — about haiku. Desmond Kon’s work is edgy, fast-paced, and unconstrained. A kaleidoscopic look at the contemporary world that is nothing short of mesmerizing.”

Susan Antolin

Editor of Acorn: A Journal of Contemporary Haiku


Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé

[Glass Lyre Press / Squircle Line Press]

136 pages

“A book for both poets and philosophers. Attractively designed, it captures Desmond Kon’s meditative conversation with philosophers, writers, and painters. Hegel will be smiling in heaven as he has found new dialogical partners in this book.”

Kwok Pui Lan

President of American Academy of Religion

“Our word aesthetic is derived from a Greek root that elicits knowledge through the senses (plural emphasized). Simply put, the opposite of aesthetic is an anesthetic which inhibits our senses and thereby our ability to feel, to taste, to smell, to hear, and to see. In his collection of poems entitled Reading to Ted Hesburgh, Desmond Kon involves all of our senses through a visually pleasing presentation of both words and text that engages our feelings, our imaginations, and our memories as he moves us alphabetically from alienation toward world soul. His poems remind us that the classical Hindus believed the poet was a seer, and the classical Greeks that the poet was a maker. Kon creates a new world of seeing through sound and memory, as he ‘plays’ in the best sense of the Sanskrit concept of lila with words and their meanings. He leads us through the darkness into the light as he brings a new world into being and transforms our senses, referencing well-known works of art, literature, and philosophy that awaken the power of metaphor and imagination.”

Diane Apostolos-Cappadona

Editor of Image and Spirit in Sacred and Secular Art

Author of Dictionary of Christian Art 

“Everything about Reading to Ted Hesburgh is a feast. None of the sameness of contemporary poetry threatens this original collection of twenty-six poems — one for every letter of the alphabet — that is determined to deliver, one after the other, ‘a lyric reminder of this forgotten world.’ Like their designated flower, the heliotrope, these poems turn unabashedly to face the sun, defiant, cheeky, eschewing punctuation and any convention that might limit subject matter and associations. These poems are inclusive in the best Whitmanesque sense. Truly, they contain multitudes. Russell Edson, Raymond Carver, Yevtushenko, Hegel himself and many others come in for a mention in these poems; I am in these poems, and so are you, each and every one of you. Here discover abstraction and concreteness to sing and rue a world: ‘form & finitude/seeing that there’s saliva all over the apple’, and be glad. Kon’s spirited book is good company for the investigative, ever-curious mind and the soul-seeking spiritual adventurer. There are even good laughs in its lines. Read them aloud. Let them pick you up and drive you around like the charismatic, blind taxi driver who knows the mysterious city like the back of his hand. You won’t die in his care, but you’ll change.”

Robert McDowell

Author of Poetry as Spiritual Practice


Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé

[Glass Lyre Press / Squircle Line Press]

128 pages

“One of the oddest reads you’ll ever encounter. Like Alice in Singa-land, expect to bump your head and bruise your innocent soul as Jia Lat Lah’s curious and curiouser characters get mad and madder in a strangely hypnotic narrative. At once knowing and naughty, Desmond Kon’s antiplay about identity, language and culture clearly revels in defying literary convention. Play, prose and poetry mix and tumble with a heady dose of Singlish and Beckett, proving that there are no boundaries to the author’s wit and imagination.”

Michael Chiang

Editorial Director of The A List 

“With its recent status elevation thanks to the OED, this timely provocation reminds us why Singlish is ever so potent and malleable. In Kon’s hands, our patois is deftly molded and ingeniously framed within classroom-style exchanges, highlighting our ever-present desire to challenge authority figures and dramatizing our absurdist longing of wanting to break through.”

Damon Chua

Recipient of Ovation Award for Best New Play

“We take many things for granted in this tiny island of ours. Our ample provisions, our predictable but last warning weather, even that we can leave our damn shoes outside our homes without them getting nicked. But somewhere between Phua Chu Kang and Mata Mata, we almost forgot our very own patois. Thanks for jio-ing us on your absurd jaunt through familiar musings. Come, Desmond — I clap for you.”

Justin Deimen

Executive Director of Southeast Asian Audio-Visual Association

Jia Lat Lah is an amusing, provocative collection of poems deliberately designed to shock and fluster the delicate Singaporean temperament. The author cleverly sticks to several themes throughout the poems — many written in the voice of a teenager. Will definitely strike a chord with anyone who has been to secondary school in Singapore. A must read.”

Mary-Ann Russon

Broadcast Journalist at BBC News Online


Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé

[Glass Lyre Press / Squircle Line Press]

152 pages

“Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingde invites us to imagine that angels walk among us. His angels do not embody the fleet terror of revelation, but the majestic brokenness of our first selves, now reified through centuries of contemplating art, history, and philosophy. Where Rilke’s angels stoked our passions, Desmond’s angels offer us a lassitude of intellection. In a universe literally bookended by suicide and genocide, Hermitage of Dreamers masterfully demonstrates how the space between art and divinity collapses in our search for solace.”

Sueyeun Juliette Lee

Author of Solar Maximum

“In this sequence of poetic essays, Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé helps us see what lies beyond our ordinary experience. The journey is no less than a quest for enlightenment, for oneness with a sacred realm. Here, we enter a ‘hermitage’, a retreat where we are among ‘dreamers’ who seek to know the artists, thinkers and holy figures who have lifted us from the everyday. The effect is touching, provocative, and beautiful.”

Thaddeus Rutkowski

Author of Border Crossings

“Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé’s diction is lucid and absorbing. The author has a keen eye for detail. He seems to be at ease distilling life experiences into memorable narratives with deep philosophical meanings. To digest his stories, one has to carefully peel off layer after layer in order to find the core value of them. By no means philosophical discourses with didactic narratives, Hermitage of Dreamers offers readers a rich harvest of life, recollected in tranquillity.”

Ranga Chandrarathne

Senior Associate Editor of Daily Express

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