Bo Schwabacher’s Omma, Sea of Joy and Other Astrological Signs is a book of equal parts defiance and grief. The Korean adoptee narrator speaks from a place often heavy with silence. Short lines suspended in white space speak to the tenuous grip, the narrow stairs that allow the narrator to contain herself, with great effort. Madness, spiritual cannibalism, and grief are ritualized, even washed here; each poem seems to bleed and then purify what was invoked in the last. These poems are exquisite―spiritual drama inside the charged theater of language.
- Sun Yung Shin
Bo Schwabacher writes haunting, honed, and lyrical poetry that exposes the ambiguities of family love, a poetry inflected by abandonment, abuse, and the questions of identity that beset “An Adopted Korean Girl.” This figure recurs throughout this powerful collection, as the poet finds in language the means to reassemble a sense of self riven by history.
- Alison Hawthorne Deming
This remarkable book illuminates Schwabacher’s adopted Korean experience: trauma, discovery, reassemblage. She is brave enough to not flinch at the dark parts and talented enough to render them into a gorgeous, singular art. The anti-fairy tale has been made new. It is a splayed open heart. Fierce talent and grace on the page. I don’t say this lightly, but time and time again these poems took my breath and changed me. This is what poetry ought to be. This is a stunning, healing, necessary debut.