The speakers in Blake Z. Rong's gorgeous debut, I Am Not Young and Will Die with This Car in My Garage, inhabit a world emptied of people but haunted by distorted memories of human contact. As Rong writes, "The city becomes human in its unraveling." This is a poetry of place; the poems span the globe-Singapore, Miami, New York and Dalian-but each place just reminds the reader of what's missing. Can poetry fill the loss? Read and find out.
-Joanna Fuhrman, author of To A New Era and other books
Blake Z. Rong's debut is a feat-and without a doubt a must-read. Rong's honesty, tenderness, humor, awe and wonder at the world, and attention to detail come through in a way where the speaker is us-or a friend we've known for a long time. For instance, the lines, "Down on the street all you gorgeous bodies/vibrate against each other like/supercharged miracles" are unforgettable and gorgeous. So much of the book is full of lines that are beautiful but also starkly honest, such as "There are no off-world colonies." The book ultimately leaves me having just enough but always wanting more of these words, this insight.
-Joanna C. Valente, author of A LOVE STORY and other books
"There are particular American cruelties / hard-wired into our veins. Watch me, / just watch me / catch this rubber bullet between my teeth." Blake Z. Rong's debut collection of poems is a visceral, lyrical, and unflinching look at where we are as a country, who we are when we dare to love, and what happens when we fall short. Rong's collection is a timely, imaginative story of coming of age in the 21st century as young Americans find themselves torn apart by economic strife, imperialism, racism, social isolation, gun violence, and cultural dislocation. And yet, in that dangerous world, the speakers of these poems defy stigma, forge human connections, and love across cultures and histories despite taboos. These speakers are unafraid to embrace their beautiful and contradictory selves, and in doing so, they create a vision for the future that's startling, original, and sublimely human in its intent. A must-read debut.
-Rita Banerjee, author of Echo in Four Beats and CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing
In his debut full-length collection, Blake Z. Rong attempts to answer the following questions:
What do doomed cosmonauts think about as they plummet to Earth?
Has a bird ever pooped on your pizza?
Did Van Gogh ever get laid?
I Am Not Young And I Will Die With This Car In My Garage is a chronicle of failures. These grandiose failures take place across time and space and distance, from Singapore to Tokyo to Disneyland, and onward to the end of the world. Through these 37 poems Rong alights on our deepest longings, the darkest results of loneliness, and our inability to hold on to the people we love most.