How to Make Pancakes for a Dead Boy

How to Make Pancakes for a Dead Boy

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Author: Joan Kwon Glass

Publisher: Small Harbor Publishing (2022)

"Here, memory continues to sing in a language that is assured, with a lilt that aims to preserve what is lost—Joan continues to 'search through' the 'empty house' of grief even though "there is nothing left to recover" but the beauty of shared experiences with the ones we have lost. This is a book that is a remarkable read, that teaches that hope exists in remembrance."

–Saddiq Dzukogi

“'bow your head / in prayer to a new Holy Trinity: / Father, Gun, Holy Ghost / place your ear to the floor, / listen for whatever echo / death leaves behind.' In her exquisite chapbook, How to Make Pancakes for a Dead Boy, Joan Kwon Glass becomes an alchemist, transforming unfathomable tragedy into a narrative of mourning, teaching us in the process that there are endless layers to discover even in the heartbreak of a life cut short. Wild with stunned grief, Kwon Glass weaves this tender narrative of bewildering loss with treasures, like the ones her children uncover in the backyard of her centuries-old New England house, 'animal bones, smoking pipe, porcelain china, some pieces etched with the surprised or broken faces of Chinese women, their robes adorned with blue and white flowers.' Like the ancient earth around her home, like the tragedy of her nephew’s suicide at age 11, there are secrets and sorrows beneath every surface, dangers lurking behind every door. Aching with desperate regret, Kwon Glass’s wishes to go back in time to keep watch over her nephew so that, 'eventually, I would see what needs to be fixed.' These poems deserve our time and care, to read again and again, to uncover their secrets and treasures, to protect ourselves from complacency, to come awake with gratitude for all we still have.

 –Meghan Sterling

"Who are and what becomes the survivors of unthinkable tragedy? This is the question answered in earnest detail in Joan Kwon Glass’ How to Make Pancakes For A Dead Boy. Glass journeys us through the devastating emotional and physical wreckage of a post-suicide landscape where the left behind “search through the rubble/ . . . when there is nothing left to recover” for answers.  With subtlety, artfulness, unflinching intensity, and tenderness How to Make Pancakes For a Dead Boy approaches the stages of grief with precision and intimacy.  The left behind are 'happiest in the dark,' 'hold on as long as we can, hoping,' 'wait/for a sign that it’s safe to keep going,' and that maybe 'this familiar brick pathway/is where we start again.' Glass’ How to Make Pancakes For a Dead Boy is a fitting, beautiful eulogy of those who’ve gone before us, the ways their lives and deaths shape us, and a reminder that the price of love is inevitable grief. It is stunning, singular, and necessary."

–Angelique Zobitz