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Wong May

A Bad Girl’s Book of Animals

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By Wong May

A re-issue of 2022 Windham-Campbell Prize Winner Wong May's debut poetry collection.

Format: Paperback
Pages: 128

Wong May’s poems are concerned with the ultimate loneliness, the inarticulateness and the inability to communicate fully that are the marks of human life. “My poems,” says Wong May, “are about wordlessness rather than words. I feel that we must recognize our ultimate wordlessness.”

What is most impressive about Wong May’s poems is her mastery of the implicit, her marvelously effective elliptical style that nevertheless strikes sharp blows of beauty and clarity.
—Harcourt, Brace & World

Wong May’s startlingly original poetry gleams with wit; her delicate but acute irony balances its lucid seriousness with a fizzing verbal lightness.
—Windham-Campbell Prize

First published in the US in 1969, and reissued in Singapore 54 years later, A Bad Girl’s Book of Animals continues to astound, intrigue, and endure. 

About the author
Born in China's wartime capital of Chongqing in 1944, the poet and artist Wong May moved to Singapore in 1950 with her mother. After attending Chinese-medium schools, Wong May enrolled at the University of Singapore, majoring in English Literature. After graduating in 1966, she obtained her MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop in 1968. Three collections of poetry would be published in the US by Harcourt: A Bad Girl’s Book of Animals (1969), Reports (1972) and Superstitions (1978). Her fourth collection of poetry, Picasso’s Tears: Poems, 1978-2013 (Octopus Books, 2014), selects poetry across four decades of writing. Wong May moved to Dublin in 1978 with her husband, Irish physicist Michael Coey, where she continues to reside. Her latest work is the collection of translations In the Same Light: 200 Tang Poems for Our Century (Carcanet, 2022; The Song Cave, 2022). In March the same year, Wong May received a Windham-Campbell Prize for her body of work in poetry.