Contempt is a poem occupied by nature of reality, by the competing forces of money and elemental life. A wintery, evocative poem of bleak edges and porous silhouettes, Soong’s work has a biting title that belies a genuine trust in the natural world’s transformative powers. With a telescopic perspective, Soong reveals the elapsing motion of a Lucretian environment, whose seismic flow washes over and undoes the fixed meanings of capital’s ineluctable instruments. Money dissolves back into ‘leaves’, into water, coins are swallowed into the liquidity of natural flux. Against capital’s hollow indices, then, Soong’s only guarantee is to guarantee nothing, to render a dark, frosty force of natural sublimity that remains without equivalence and beyond exchange: ‘true to nothing like water’.
- Connie Scozzaro
Syllabically dense and intellectually expansive, Contempt moves across abstract time and landscape, driven by a plural voice, disinterested in proper names or identifying psychological features, giving each phrase enough space to face up to a nagging sense of existential emptiness before folding into the next phrase, which may or may not traverse history, may or may not blur into the natural world, may or may not congeal into the sound of a person. Contempt is a wide-scoped, strange, careful, ambitious poem.
- Steven Zultanski
About the author
Jennifer Soong is the author of the full-length collections and chapbooks Near, At (Futurepoem '19), When I Ask My Friend (DoubleCross Press '21), Contempt (SPAM Press '21), and Suede Mantis / Soft Rage (Black Sun Lit, forthcoming '22). Born in New Jersey, she holds a BA from Harvard and a PhD from Princeton. She currently lives and teaches at Oxford.