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ISBN: 978-1-62557-017-8
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Categories Chapbooks, Poetry

Hex & Howl

Publication Date: August 2021

About

“You and I were told to swallow / our hexed howling, refuse the reptilian // and the mammalian, unless it’s tame, / you know, cow-eyed, with a roundness eager / for petting.” A powerful evocation of the feminist voice, Hex & Howl both applies and upends textuality and tradition, parsing and refuting prior masculinist treatments of women’s bodies. The poems in this collection forge multi-vocalities, some exhibiting pleasure in the parameters of the sonnet, others designing new poetic architectures through the double and multiple voicings of centos and self-portraits.

“Now we do the refusing; now // we flame in the celluloid dark.” Hex & Howl is collaborative writing at its most innovative, playful, and powerful. Muench and White allow for the creation of a chimeric construction, a third-bodied poem that engages in language-play to explode notions of subjectivity, as the “I” and “you” and “we” shift and shimmer with agency and possibility beyond the page.

From Hex & Howl

Disclosure

but dresses dressed in dresses are dresses—Saeed Jones

The dress says I will frame your beauty
when I bury you. The dress is a chateau
of ghosts demanding don’t go, don’t love
your nakedness. It is the vehicle, the volta

that comes too soon, without steering, only
sash for a wheel. Let it fly loose, grip yourself.
The dress is a liar laced with history’s lies.
Your beauty needs no frame; pivot on this

exposé as the body drowns its cargo
of blues beneath a voluminous red dress
that enters the room before you do.
Let it go on ahead, swirl its cliché, evoke

whatever gazes it can. That nakedness
you do love refigures any space you choose.

Praise

Like heroines harrowing Hell, Simone Muench and Jackie White rock and reel in these scintillating collaborative sonnets and portraits, resurrecting the girls buried in the woods and garden of misogynist brutality, refracting ruin through ingenious sequences of sense and sound. Wielding needle and shovel, scalpel and gavel, Muench and White “churn those ashed hours into aurora,” stretching the sonnet’s corset into glorious trumpet, “spinning loose from that pinned darkness” into incantatory song after song—each line a rivet, sorrowful and resplendent, fiery curse and wise dirge—giving voice and ear to those who were not heard, in searing soaring stereo.

—Anna Maria Hong, author of Age of Glass and Fablesque

The chapbook Hex & Howl, a collaboration between Simone Muench and Jackie K. White, delivers twenty-six affirmations of individual resilience in response to forces of silencing or erasure. The title poem sets the premise that “You and I are told to swallow / our hexed howling, refuse the reptilian // and the mammalian, unless it’s tame,” but goes on to signal a sharp shift, “Now we do the refusing; now // we flame in the celluloid dark, a primal / rewinding…” The poems in this collection invite us to “Let bees shimmer inside our eyes instead / of men’s glory,” and inform us that “We took the garden with us, now the gavel // is our godhead.” Finding fuel in memory, and ignition in lines from poets such as Akhmatova and Pizarnik, the poems instruct readers that “We can’t recast ruin. / We have to sit in the taint. Survive it.” We exit this chapbook at a point of catharsis, fortified by the sway of sonnets, empowered to face our predicaments with fresh ferocity.

—Mary Biddinger, author of Partial Genius and Small Enterprise

About the Authors

© Richard Every

Simone Muench

Simone Muench is the author of several books including Lampblack & Ash (Kathryn A. Morton Prize for Poetry and NYT Editor’s Choice; Sarabande, 2005), Orange Crush (Sarabande, 2010), and Wolf Centos (Sarabande, 2014). Her chapbook Trace won the Black River Chapbook Competition (Black Lawrence, 2014), and her collection, Suture, is a book of sonnets written with Dean Rader (Black Lawrence, 2017). She also co-edited the anthology They Said: A Multi-Genre Anthology of Contemporary Collaborative Writing (Black Lawrence, 2018). Some of her honors include an NEA fellowship, three Illinois Arts Council fellowships, the Marianne Moore Prize for Poetry, and residency fellowships to Yaddo, Artsmith, and VSC. In 2014, she was awarded the Meier Foundation for the Arts Achievement Award, which recognizes artists for innovation, achievements, and community contributions. She received her PhD from the University of Illinois and is a professor of English at Lewis University where she teaches creative writing and film studies. Currently, she serves as faculty advisor for Jet Fuel Review, as a senior poetry editor for Tupelo Quarterly, and creator of the HB Sunday Reading Series.

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© Diane Cabrera

Jackie K. White

Jackie K. White has has been an editor with RHINO, faculty advisor for Jet Fuel Review, and professor of English at Lewis University. She has published three previous chapbooks--Bestiary Charming (Anabiosis), Petal Tearing & Variations (Finishing Line), and Come clearing (Dancing Girl)--along with numerous single-authored poems and translations in such journals as ACMBayou, Fifth Wednesday, FolioQuarter after EightSpoon River, Third CoastTupelo Quarterly, and online at prosepoem.com, seven corners, shadowbox, and superstitionreview.com, among others. An assistant editor for They Said: A Multi-Genre Anthology of Contemporary Collaborative Writing, her collaborative poems (with Simone Muench) have appeared in Ecotone, Hypertext, The Journal, Pleiades, and others. 

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