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NO REST by Jason Koo
  • NO REST by Jason Koo

    • Bibliographic Information

      ISBN: 978-1-939728-65-4, 172pp., paperback

      Publication Date: May 24, 2024

      Author: Jason Koo

      Location: Doha, Qatar & Richmond, VA

      Distribution: Distributed by Diode Editions


    • About the Collection

      What do we truly know? Are we deceiving ourselves when we think we know ourselves or the world? Jason Koo's No Rest, a winner of the Diode Editions Book Contest, pursues these questions through a series of long poems like essays in verse that demonstrate the elusiveness of any answers even as they keep up the pursuit. The book begins on the day after the 2016 presidential election, when Koo discovers that his best friend from high school has killed himself by throwing himself in front of a train. The year he thought would be the best of his life—because of the unexpected joy of meeting his future wife and seeing his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers win the city's first championship since 1964—turns out to be just another triumph of his own self-absorption.


      The book then returns to the start of 2016, unfolding along two arcs: one to the poet's fortieth birthday that August, the other spanning the next four years to the outbreak of COVID-19. With bitter honesty and irreverent, self-deprecating humor, Koo's No Rest explores the problem of how to emerge from the condition of the "exact same," the "saturation // of the same so-be-it that has always been" in American life, and the only truth that becomes clear over the course of this relentless, boundary-stretching book is that there is no rest to this quest. Juxtaposing personal failures against systemic ones, No Rest shows again and again that what we think is knowing is not knowing, doing is not doing, being is not being. We always find ourselves enclosed again in the "social fabric of fabrications," still trying to begin being in a more truthful, impactful way.


    • Praise

      No Rest is utterly compelling, heartbreaking, funny, tragic and brilliant. From beginning to end I was immersed. It's a book we are fortunate to have, and to which I will return again and again.”


      — Matthew Zapruder, author of Story of a Poem and I Love Hearing Your Dreams


      I have been trying // and trying and trying and trying and trying / to make myself manifest to the American public,” Jason Koo writes in No Rest, a sidesplitting, entrancing tour de force of audaciously long poems alchemized from an inner chatter so authentic you’ll forget that this voice—with its expletives, its asides (“Um, no, but hold that thought”) and one completely justified use of “???”—is shaking you from a book. And what a sharp, unforgettable book this is. No Rest is a test of the “American cultural imaginary.” An upheaval of stereotypes about Asian American men. Jason Koo’s no-frills, give-no-fucks latest collection is a demand not only to be seen, but also to be remembered: “to make it impossible, I suppose, / to miss me.”


      Eugenia Leigh, author of Bianca


      Whether it’s riding the heat of high-stakes reveries, dazzling exasperations, long-simmered quandaries or the shocks of loss, No Rest is full of humor and alive with the real, offering one of my favorite literary experiences: a series of surprising, all-consuming rides through the particular life and mind of an indelible protagonist. Details and drudgeries of living become startling and strange at Jason Koo’s touch, anchoring dire questions about human relation and what defines a self. In navigating this era's technologies and categories, apps and lists, the limits and failures of connection and representation, we are lucky Koo does not shy away from the uncomfortable; he renders prickly human dynamics, unflattering emotions, complex philosophical ideas and more with brilliant clarity, employing astounding feats of syntax that somehow carry the spark and allure of extemporaneous speech. Keeping a reader’s attention for the duration of any long poem requires a rare level of talent and skill, and in Jason Koo’s No Rest, this rarity is on full display again and again. Here is a thought-provoking, incisive, honest, risky, hilarious, impressive and deeply affecting opus by one of American poetry’s most distinctive voices.”


      Gabrielle Bates, author of Judas Goat


    • About the Author

      Jason Koo is a second-generation Korean American poet, educator, editor and nonprofit director. He is the author of four full-length collections of poetry: No Rest, a winner of the Diode Editions Book Contest, More Than Mere Light, America's Favorite Poem and Man on Extremely Small Island. His work has been published in Best American Poetry 2022, Missouri Review, Poetry Northwest, Village Voice and Yale Review, among other places, and won fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Vermont Studio Center and New York State Writers Institute. He is an associate teaching professor of English and the director of creative writing at Quinnipiac University and the founder and executive director of Brooklyn Poets.


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