The Sunflower Cast a Spell to Save Us from the Void


Product Details

$16.95  $15.76
Nightboat Books
Publish Date
5.9 X 7.4 X 0.6 inches | 0.45 pounds

Earn by promoting books

Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.

Become an affiliate

About the Author

Jackie Wang is a student of the dream state, black studies scholar, prison abolitionist, poet, performer, library rat, trauma monster and PhD candidate in the Department of African and African American Studies at Harvard University, specializing in race and the political economy of prisons and police in the United States. She is the author of a number of punk zines including On Being Hard Femme, as well as a collection of dream poems titled Tiny Spelunker of the Oneiro-Womb. In 2018 she published a book, titled Carceral Capitalism on the racial, economic, political, legal, and technological dimensions of the US carceral state. She is currently an Arleen Carlson and Edna Nelson Graduate Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study


Our subconscious knows more about us than our waking selves. And it is often through dreams that we are able to tap into this unknown realm. Writer Jackie Wang documented her dreams and sculpted them into poems for her debut collection The Sunflower Cast A Spell To Save Us From The Void. The book is a surrealist expression of how social processes and traumas show up in our dreams, and how we can better understand ourselves by tuning into them.--Jeevika Verma, NPR Morning Edition

In this extraordinary debut, Wang (Carceral Capitalism) creates a symbolist dream diary for catastrophic times... The book engages with climate change and the apocalyptic, asking, 'Can a book parry catastrophe?' At another point, Wang observes, 'I have been having such strange and beautiful dreams lately, ' and readers will be grateful for these potent, dreamlike reflections.--Starred review in Publishers Weekly

The spell of this book preserves the multiple-layered, multiple-petaled nature of life. Wang's collection professes the potency of dream and sunflower; it professes the persistence of powers that save.--Amanda Auerbach, The Brooklyn Rail

"'Can a book parry catastrophe?' Jackie Wang (heliomancer, revelator, poet) asks, in a book that not only parries catastrophe, but climbs, through its eye, into its mind, into its fantasy even. From the blistering seat of that overwhelming perspective, Wang begins calling catastrophe back from storming and suffering itself onto others (community, friendships, the future), by counting and recounting, in the most irreproachably neon vocabulary, dreams, translations of dreams, which are, as reclamations of logic and improvements of life, scenarios that together manifest an alternative method of survival: 'the sunflower book: It is code for love.'"--Brandon Shimoda

Jackie Wang's new book asks questions that rotate/fluoresce against a backdrop or foreground of ceremonial apprenticeship, like sunflowers or the memories of sunflowers. In this other world, 'survivor trauma' is experienced by creatures and non-creatures alike. I was so moved by the mixtures of writing I encountered here: the "map" of a dream, but also the notebooks that 'fill up, ' not always in the English of waking time. 'I want to write you without writing over you. I have something to tell you, ' the speaker says, with the delicacy and directness of a sentence written directly on the skin. Kalan Sherrard's illustrations echo this way of marking the page: a mode of companionship and witness in a book that did not end because it did not begin. Is this what it feels like to be a person?--Bhanu Kapil

Jackie Wang's The Sunflower Cast A Spell To Save Us From The Void is a gorgeous, ambitious, phantasmagoric lament for the better worlds our bodies tell us must be possible, every day, even when we're numb with pain. It goes deeper into darkness--political darkness, the end of our days--than anything I've read in recent poetry. But the poems are also filled with shifting, glittering 'I's' and 'you's' that frame themselves for us then break their frames, repeatedly moving between poetry and meditations on "poetry" before becoming beautiful poetry again. I felt myself get lost and found in their address. I hope you will, as well.--Chris Nealon

Wang's debut collection, formally diverse and marked with a sardonic tinge, suggests a porous border between the dream and waking worlds. 'Who is the woman lurking in the woods?' she wonders in an early poem, recognizing that she is a 'fellow traveler, ' for 'She is lost and I am lost.' Wang drifts between the real and unreal, documenting an almost Yeatsian interest in that third space, a poetic place between, where the absurd is necessary.--Nick Ripatrazone, The Millions

Writer and academic Jackie Wang's stunning new poetry collection, The Sunflower Cast a Spell to Save Us from the Void, owes much to her dreamlife...This book is not quite a guide, but something like one. The sunflower and the coral tree grow in treacherous soil.--Maria Bobbitt-Chertock, Women's Review of Books

The insistence on a sunflower in the book's title and many epigraphs points us toward the idea that there may be some innate quality in us, too, to reach toward what is good for us--to grow beyond the future the current conditions have given us, toward untouchable sun. With Wang's poems' suggestion that not much is worth saving in a world that values all the wrong things, perhaps a single sunflower sprouting from the rubble is all we need to be guided toward the light.--Hannah Treasure, Akimbo Books

Jackie Wang's poetry debut, The Sunflower Cast A Spell To Save Us From The Void, delivers a fascinating mix of fantasy and reality to start off the new year. Many of these poems have a startling beginning - frequently we enter in the moment of a catastrophe, whether it is a natural disaster, attempted murder, perceived poisoning, or just a vague sense of something strange looming. Wang lends credence to the value of dreams in a way that few seem to, and what is often dismissed with a wave of the hand is held in a gentle spotlight here.--Bethany Mary, Vagabond City Lit