The Book of Motion

Poems by Tung-Hui Hu

"These poems earthquake the expected, creating a psychic and linguistic landscape that unsettles, jolts, and sears."—Laurie Sheck, author of Black Series


"Distillate, metamorphic, these elegant poems by Tung-Hui Hu work magic on the page. In an age, too often, of surfeit and stall, they chart the deft alignments of silence and sublimity, minimal brush stroke and maximal wit, the deadpan ad-lib and the swerve of philosophic penetration. The Book of Motion is above all motion of mind: a joyous—and joy-engendering—debut."
—Linda Gregerson, winner of the 2003 Kingsley Tufts Award

"A splendidly elegant work of poetry and prose."
—Clarence Brown, Trenton Times

"To read Tung-Hui Hu is to feel in the presence of a fresh, new voice. He's read his Tate and his Simic, absorbed their intelligent strangeness and humor, then with great brio and precision has discovered how to go his own way. The Book of Motion is an exciting debut."
—Stephen Dunn, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Different Hours

"The Book of Motion has a contained surreal style that deftly shapes a philosophical argument that somehow remains pure lyric."
Los Angeles Times

"Tung-Hui Hu's extraordinary The Book of Motion stuns by degrees. Here all is precarious, nothing is safe; yet awe and delight have not been banished. These poems earthquake the expected, creating a psychic and linguistic landscape that unsettles, jolts, and sears. A radio report is 'derailed by a news flash,' real estate agents stand 'armed with walkie-talkies barking at / half-finished meadows.' In a chess player's mind a waitress turns 'with slender legs into a heron.' Hallucinatory yet precisely anchored in the quotidian, these are deeply memorable poems."
—Laurie Sheck, author of Black Series

"Perplexity and wonder are integral parts of Tung-Hui Hu’s poetry, which is as elegant as it is surprising. . . . This aggregate of conflicting imagery is characteristic of the work throughout, which is haunting and mysterious, yet inexplicably vivid and tangible. . . . [An] intriguing debut collection."
—Mark Tursi, Rain Taxi

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This debut collection explores memory, cities, motion. Tung-Hui Hu's tone has some of the swampy wit that recalls Calvino or Michaux: A man swaps bodies with his lover; a mapmaker holds captive a city, which needs his crystal telescope to navigate through streets "unreadable as palm lines"; a car pushed off a cliff in a fit of anger becomes home for a school of fish. Anchored by the sequence "Elegies for self," Hu's poetry brings a quiet sophistication to syntax, diction, and form.
Page count: 64 pp.
Trim size: 5.5 x 8.5


List price: $19.95

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Tung-Hui Hu, a doctoral student in architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, also has an M.F.A. from the University of Michigan. The Book of Motion, in addition to being chosen for the Contemporary Poetry Series, won an Avery Hopwood Award. Hu's current projects include translations of the German writer Paul Scheerbart.