. . . [Phi’s] irreverent profundity shines in prose poems and fixed forms alike.” —New York Times Book Review
“The strength of this book comes from the clear and forceful voice. The words leap off the pages, half alive already . . . Thousand Star Hotel is a fierce, burning indictment of racism and xenophobia.” —Chicago Review of Books, “‘Thousand Star Hotel’ Is A Fierce, Burning Indictment: Bao Phi's second poetry collection confronts racism in the U.S.” review
“ Thousand Star Hotel is a cutting collection of poems about growing up a refugee, becoming a father, feeling surrounded by police brutality and the invisibility of poor Asian-Americans.” —NPR Code Switch, “The Poet Bao Phi, On Creating A 'Guidebook' For Young Asian-Americans” interview
“Much more than a set of poems, [ Thousand Star Hotel ] is its own history: a chronicle of Phi's family, present, past and future. Spinning this history together from fragments of memory and reflection, the collection provides a critical thread in the fabric of Asian American literature, history, and activism—past and present.” —Kartika Review
“There’s sparkling range within these poems, and the reach is fluid… [Phi] takes disparate and precise moments of family, work, fatherhood, and shows their wider echo.” —The Millions, “Must-Read Poetry: July 2017”
“. . . [Phi’s] fluid, open writing is frequently shot through with moments of lyricism . . . Accessible, accomplished, and troubling, this should intrigue many readers.” —Library Journal, “Poetry Beyond the Basics: Twelve New Collections Offer Fresh Perspective on the Human Experience”
“... Thousand Star Hotel skillfully weaves a range of topics police brutality, Asian American representation, masculinity, fatherhood, and his immigrant experience growing up in Minnesota, to name just a few.” —Angry Asian Man, “Trust the Process: An Interview with Poet Bao Phi”
“The many fans of Bao Phi will be thrilled by this book. New readers will be seduced by his trademark blend of passion, politics, and poetry. His poems alternate between the profane and the provocative as they deal with war and history, love and heartbreak, the inner city and the inner self. A powerful read, a gutsy writer.” — Viet Thanh Nguyen
“A beautiful collection of passionate poems that explores the deep-seated trauma and discrimination in an Asian-American life.” —Sonder: A Blog of Seattle Arts & Lectures, “Summer Book Bingo: Recommended by an Independent Bookseller”
“ [Thousand Star Hotel] is bold in its language for experiences that oscillate between existence and erasure, and it is moving in its mission to challenge the boundaries of solidarity and to refuse neat conceptions of past, present and future.” —The Writers’ Block Blog, interview
“Bao Phi’s Thousand Star Hotel is a vividly inward look at an Asian American experience that never flinches from the hard realizations of humanity. Bao ties generations together at his personal crossroad of fatherhood and lets the reader see, feel, and hear the electricity of his renowned stage performance blossoming on the page. Bao’s poems haunt our collective American psyche until a ‘new region of the tongue is discovered’ that lets us know what ‘tastes like the middle of the crosshairs of a drone bomber / tastes like science concocting survival.’” —Tyehimba Jess, author of Olio
“Bao Phi’s Thousand Star Hotel echoes the fire in his earlier work, which skewers racism and class with the precision of a skilled chef. Yet, when Phi splits open the vulnerable and humbling moments of love, childhood, and fatherhood, he creates a body of satisfying, poignant poems that create moments of quiet introspection like diners hushed by the first bites of an anticipated meal. Bao Phi carries an honest, powerful voice, and he is not afraid to look into the boiling pots of his past or the roiling violence in America and abroad.” —Tara Betts, author of Break the Habit
“ Thousand Star Hotel is equal parts heartbreaking and bitingly funny… This volume is a must-read for readers seeking a greater understanding of race, but also for any reader who has children or parents, experienced heartbreak, or just loves the sound of finely wrought lines.” —Star Tribune
Mlinko has said that she prefers her poems “layered and loaded up,” and, in her second book, lines like “Freezing the rapidly flowing global language into spun sugar gardens” show you exactly what she’s talking about. Thick with knotty words and bizarre juxtapositions, these poems dissolve syntax and estrange language from conventional meaning. Some passages recall Surrealist forebears—“Schoolkids jumping the jellyfish fences / Wearing cranberry jackets / Through the paisley briars and stars”—and poems such as “Bon Nuit, Bunny” create charming, musical repetitions. Mlinko’s most obvious influence is the conversational, paratactic style of Frank O’Hara, but her intoxicating, cerebral poems display a unique sense of humor and mystery.
The Brooklyn-based Mlinko (Matinees) adds more lyricism and more depth to the Frank O'Hara- inspired verve of her much-noticed debut, and the result should raise even bigger waves. Verbal tumbles and linguistic curlicues play sometimes for ontological rewards, at other times just for fun ("Surely the Shambles Will Not Desert the Bank," one title notes). Though the first few poems evoke arduous journeys, Mlinko spends more time delighting in variegated urban space: in "Secret Chelsea," "The youth risk their evening, the early part of it at least,/ in circulating among installations." Other, European, explorations offer "a comprehensive view of the environs" via a "shy girl's cunning." Classical Greek sites, pastorals in pastures, a roundabout where "Everything's Carousing" (so that "Even the Baroque gets lost in it"), "spun sugar gardens" where "global language" might freeze, and a "mythical orgone box" now lost "in the woods" become just some of the imaginative, or imaginary, locales where Mlinko's imagination finds or makes itself at home. Mlinko has links with the East Coast avant-garde, and her work can struggle fitfully toward prose sense: her poetry's sky-high quotient of pure pleasure, however, means that even readers used to smoother fare ought to delight in her manifold ways. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
A National Poetry Series winner, Mlinko offers a second collection (after Matin es) that should be subtitled "Poems as Aural Collage." In these free-verse poems, Mlinko lets one word lead her to the next, helped by figures of sound-especially alliteration, assonance, consonance, and perfect and slant rhyme. The effect resembles overhearing a few lines from various songs while standing in a noisy crowd. It's hard to make out the sense of the song, but the beat generally comes through. With quick, clever lines that move by rhythm rather than by reasoning, these language poems achieve a surreal and dreamlike atmosphere, punctuated by puns and nonsense messages. One can hear the influence of Frank O'Hara in poems like "Ceremony for Removing a Painting," structured as a set of directions. There are also echoes of Shakespeare ("Imaginary Standard Distance") and Wallace Stevens ("Femme Fatale Geography"). But while the echoes may sound pleasing, they aren't grounded enough to ring true. The best of these poems are reminiscent of both magic writing and magical realism, while the worst suggest that poetry should be made of sterner stuff. Suitable for academic libraries.-Diane Scharper, Towson Univ., MD Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.