Thoughts on Lillian Kwok's work

Lillian Kwok's “words of terrible & incomprehensible beauty” describe a life of love and hate, guilt and joy, devotion and forgetfulness in a blend that is so intricate it is hard to distinguish which is which. And that is precisely what makes this collection so honest, so real, so important. Moving out of a present moment to both past to future, Kwok creates a comprehensive vision-- amazingly in such a short space-- of a complex life that will not settle for easy solutions.

--Richard Jackson, UTNAA Distinguished Professor of English, award-winning author, recipient of numerous Fellowships including Guggenheim, NEA, Fulbright, and a 2009 winner of the AWP George Garret National Award for Teaching, Writing and Arts Advocacy.

Lillian Kwok’s poems have the surprise and piercing veracity of dreams.  They unfold with a quite intensity that continues to resonate long after the last word.  As if death truly is the mother of beauty, she says in one poem, “Let’s paint our bodies…so the gods will know that we were here and we were beautiful.”  Brief as each poem is, it carries a wisdom that is at once recognizable and utterly astonishing, reminding us, as Paul Eluard says, “there is another world and it is this one.”

--Betsy Scholl, award-winning poet, NEA Fellow, a founding member of Alice James Books, former Poet Laureate of Maine,

The poetry of Lillian Kwok dazzles the ear and the mind's eye with sensory experiences that are both unforgettable and unrelenting. At the center of such remarkable beauty an ache beats like a heart--it's the unshakable sound of pain and loss, it's the poet's determination to soothe the wounds with song.

--Rigoberto González, award-winning author--most recently Unpeopled Eden, Guggenheim Fellow, NEA fellow, contributing editor for Poets & Writers Magazine, executive board member of the National Book Critics Circle, contributing writer for Lambda Literary and the Los Angeles Review of Books, and a founding member of the Advisory Circle of Con Tinta, a collective of Chicano/Latino activist-writers.