“You and I were told to swallow / our hexed howling, refuse the reptilian // and the mammalian, unless it’s tame, / you know, cow-eyed, with a roundness eager / for petting.” A powerful evocation of the feminist voice, HEX & HOWL both applies and upends textuality and tradition, parsing and refuting prior masculinist treatments of women’s bodies. The poems in this collection forge multi-vocalities, some exhibiting pleasure in the parameters of the sonnet, others designing new poetic architectures through the double and multiple voicings of centos and self-portraits.
“Now we do the refusing; now // we flame in the celluloid dark.” HEX & HOWL is collaborative writing at its most innovative, playful, and powerful. Muench and White allow for the creation of a chimeric construction, a third-bodied poem that engages in language-play to explode notions of subjectivity, as the “I” and “you” and “we” shift and shimmer with agency and possibility beyond the page.
“Like heroines harrowing Hell, Simone Muench and Jackie White rock and reel in these scintillating collaborative sonnets and portraits, resurrecting the girls buried in the woods and garden of misogynist brutality, refracting ruin through ingenious sequences of sense and sound. Wielding needle and shovel, scalpel and gavel, Muench and White ‘churn those ashed hours into aurora,’ stretching the sonnet’s corset into glorious trumpet, ‘spinning loose from that pinned darkness’ into incantatory song after song—each line a rivet, sorrowful and resplendent, fiery curse and wise dirge—giving voice and ear to those who were not heard, in searing soaring stereo.”—Anna Maria Hong
“The chapbook HEX & HOWL, a collaboration between Simone Muench and Jackie K. White, delivers twenty-six affirmations of individual resilience in response to forces of silencing or erasure. The title poem sets the premise that ‘You and I are told to swallow / our hexed howling, refuse the reptilian // and the mammalian, unless it’s tame,’ but goes on to signal a sharp shift, ‘Now we do the refusing; now // we flame in the celluloid dark, a primal / rewinding…’ The poems in this collection invite us to ‘Let bees shimmer inside our eyes instead / of men’s glory,’ and inform us that ‘We took the garden with us, now the gavel // is our godhead.’ Finding fuel in memory, and ignition in lines from poets such as Akhmatova and Pizarnik, the poems instruct readers that ‘We can’t recast ruin. / We have to sit in the taint. Survive it.’ We exit this chapbook at a point of catharsis, fortified by the sway of sonnets, empowered to face our predicaments with fresh ferocity.”—Mary Biddinger