Paperback Price: 15.95
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-938584-06-0

Selected Poem

Valentine for a Flytrap

You are a hairy painting. I belong to your jaw.
Nothing slakes you—no fruit fly, no cricket,
not even tarantula. You are the caryatid
I want to duel, dew-wet, in tongues. Luxurious
spider bed, blooming from the ossuaries
of peat moss, I love how you swindle
the moths! This is why you were named
for a goddess: not Botticelli's Venus
not any soft waif in the Uffizi. There's voltage
in your flowers—mulch skeins, armory
for cunning loves. Your mouth pins every sticky
body, swallowing iridescence, digesting
light. Venus, let me swim in your solarium.
Venus, take me in your summer gown.

Mad Honey Symposium

“Mao’s dexterity nearly overburdens the sensorium. She succeeds in making our world seem alien in its lushness and danger. . . . ‘Mad Honey Symposium’ [is] among the strongest #debut collections of the year.” —SCOUT

“. . .[By] juxtaposing. . . ordinary items with feral images, [Sally Wen Mao] drags the reader into a dark dance that is both disorienting and intoxicating. Her disturbing imagery and descriptions blend terror and desire in one spellbinding book that will leave you feeling its affects long after you’ve finished reading it.”
(The) Absolute

​”​Linguistically dexterous and formally astute, Mao’s tight and textured debut ​[Mad Honey Symposium] ​conjures an absurd, lush, occasionally poisonous world and the ravenous humans and animals that travel through it. . . . With echoes of Glück and Plath, Mao generates stunning landscapes where the flora and fauna reflect her presence and strength of voice.​”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

“In this dazzling debut,  Sally Wen Mao writes with a breathtaking assurance and linguistic brio. Reading her is like taking hits of pure oxygen: I’m energized by audacious splendors of language coupled with a stunning intelligence and depth. The charged surfaces are matched by the feral power of Mao’s subjects. Passionate and cerebral, surprising and funny, her poems fully deserve the descriptor brilliant.”
—Alice Fulton

“[Mad Honey Symposium] has all the delicacy of [Mao’s] earlier writing—but now there’s also a gritty, world-wise sense of humor that gives her work heavyweight swagger.”
—Dave Eggers

“In Mad Honey Symposium, Sally Wen Mao offers delicious diction: ‘archipelago . . . arpeggios;’ ‘horntails / swarm the wax leaves;’ ‘Fetal and feral, we curl;’ ‘mouth on your pendulum;’ ‘in the rigmarole of lucky living—!’ She also offers a heightened attention to how words work and work out in various contexts. The poet takes us all over the place in time and geography—from her mother’s bed to Audubon’s dreams to sputnik to hive and back again—all in the service of feeling deeply. A lovely debut collection.”
—Kimiko Hahn

“The luminous image of a mouth ‘digesting light’ and later spitting ‘the light out because it sears you‘ underscores the ways Sally Wen Mao transforms sense (and sentence) into sensation. Like Sylvia Plath’s poems, these visionary poems are not only astute records of experience, they are themselves dazzling, verbal experiences. Worldly, wily, wise: Mad Honey Symposium is an extraordinary debut.”
—Terrance Hayes



  1. Kundiman @ Word For Word | Queens College MFA Bulletin Blog - July 17, 2014

    […] Head down to Bryant Park for a fantastic showcase of Kundiman writers. The literary lineup includes Sally Wen Mao, author of Mad Honey Symposium, which is hot (and I mean hot) off the presses from Alice James Books. […]

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  6. Rookie » The Deep Web - April 27, 2016

    […] Wen Mao is a poet, teacher, and the author of Mad Honey Symposium. (To get a view of her brilliance with language, please click here.) For this edition of The Deep […]

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