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Angel & Hannah: A Novel in Verse (Paperback)
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The sweeping, unforgettable story of an interracial couple in 1990s New York City who are determined to protect their love against all odds—a reimagining of Romeo and Juliet
“Triumphant . . . sensuous, tender, and faceted like cut glass.”—Cathy Park Hong, award-winning author of Minor Feelings
Hannah, a Korean American girl from Queens, New York, and Angel, a Puerto Rican boy from Brooklyn, fall in love in the spring of 1993 at a quinceañera:
under a torn pink streamer
loose as a tendril of hair—lush—
his eyes. Darkluminous. Warm. A blush
floods her. Hannah sucks in her breath, but
can’t pull back. Music fades. A hush ~
he’s a young buck in the underbrush,
still in a disco ball dance of shadow & light
Their forbidden love instantly and wildly blooms along the Jackie Robinson Expressway.
Told across the changing seasons, Angel & Hannah holds all of the tension and cadence of blank verse while adding dynamic and expressive language rooted in a long tradition of hip-hop and spoken word, creating new and magnetic forms. The poetry of Angel and Hannah’s relationship is dynamic, arresting, observant, and magical, conveying the intimacies and sacrifices of love and family and the devastating realities of struggle and loss.
About the Author
Ishle Yi Park is the first woman to become poet laureate of Queens, New York. An award-winning poet, singer, hula dancer, surfer, certified yoga teacher, lomilomi practitioner, and mother, she’s traveled the world reading and performing at universities and writing festivals. Park has organized benefits and shared the stage with other activists, including Sonia Sanchez and Angela Davis. She is of Korean ancestry, and both her daughters were born and are now being raised on the Hawai’ian islands.
“Ishle Yi Park speaks to us from the most tender, furious, and emotionally raw space in her breathtaking novel in verse. Angel & Hannah makes love feel revolutionary and desire feel like embattled truth. Reading it, I was often breathless, believing in the brilliance that is the bruised wonder of youth. Park brings us as close to a heart’s fire as we are willing to go and leaves us soaring over the possibility of a new dream.”—Tina Chang, award-winning poet and author of Hybrida
“I love the way that verse and form offer a type of restraint, inside of which the imagination of both writer and reader can flourish. Ishle Yi Park does a stunning job of using bursts of language and imagery to reconceptualize and reframe a familiar narrative. I loved sinking into the world of this book. I could feel the seasons changing.”—Hanif Abdurraqib, award-winning author of A Fortune for Your Disaster and Go Ahead in the Rain
“Angel & Hannah is a gorgeously written, unforgettable, sweet, and wild love story. In the heart of Queens and Brooklyn, we feel the electricity of a first love, race and culture, desire and trouble, as the young lovers come alive, ‘stunned in sweetness.’ Park writes, ‘Why are they in love, you ask? Why does water love sky? Moon chase sun? Light reflect light?’ The brilliant, cinematic verse and boundless heart let us breathe in the music of Angel and Hannah’s grace and grief. I love and recommend this book with my whole heart.”—Lee Herrick, former poet laureate of Fresno, California, and author of Scar and Flower
“Angel & Hannah is triumphant. Ishle Yi Park’s narrative sequence of sonnets is sensuous, tender, and faceted like cut glass. I feel protective of Angel and Hannah. I want their love to flourish like an empress tree growing in an abandoned lot in Queens. These fresh and absolutely necessary poems of a cross-racial romance need to be trumpeted from the rooftops, overtaking the canonized Romeos and Juliets and Heathcliffs and Catherines. I love this book.”—Cathy Park Hong, award-winning author of Minor Feelings