by Kim Hyesoon, translated by Don Mee Choi
Action Books, 2014
1. I requested a review copy of this book because I loved Don Mee Choi’s previous translation of Kim Hyesoon’s All the Garbage of the World Unite.
2. I loved it so much that I would read one of her poems at my own poetry readings (not as my own of course, but yeah I wish I’d written them).
3. Secretly, I want to brush my teeth with sorrowtoothpaste. Doesn’t seem like it’d be overly minty. And if I used mirrorcream, I’d wonder if I’d see myself as others see me.
4. The first great phrase in this book is “clammed up like a cavity-ridden piano.” We are introduced to to characters, Melan and Choly. They are my friends too.
5. I feel these poems the way I feel seaweed in my teeth: uncomfortable but familiar.
6. The poem, “Glasses Say” might be some re-imagining of Adrienne Rich’s “Diving into the wreck.” I said might:
“…A vacant place. Only fan shells, a hook, an oxygen tube, a pair of goggles.
And a lady behind the goggles.
I shave a large piece of ice to make lenses.
I put the lenses in my mouth.
It’s raining in the sea.”
7. Umbrellas, ocean, water, ice. Nipples, milk, clouds, spit.
8. As I read, I’m not sure if what I’m seeing is what I’m really seeing, or if what I’m feeling is really feeling what I’m feeling. The sadness doesn’t overwhelm me. It sits in my chest like an orb, just sort of just glowing. I remember what this feels like. I have been this sad. I don’t think my sad was this beautiful.
9. “…I’m filled with all the screams of the world / that there is nothing else but that…”
10. Hyesoons poems are the ship. Don Mee Choi is the captain. These words are Kim Hyesoon’s. These words are Don Mee Choi’s. These wounds are all of ours.
11. If you are a ghost, or have been to ghost school. You’ll be happy to know there is a poem about you.
12. Things we carry inside us: salt dress, Dear Daddy, death, sleep, disease, language, insects.
13. Rats and garbage come back to visit us, “All the Rats of the World, Unite!”
“…I have enough holes in my body to sink the sky.”
14. I don’t know who I am. This is not my home. I have come here but can’t remember how to leave. Don’t leave. All I have is this poet’s voice. And maybe the ghosts.
15. I have eyes. I have eyelids. I have eyelashes. This book has informed me that I don’t actually see.
16. “The Ocean Came and Went” is about a house. I think briefly of my own house, of other profound writing about houses and rooms. I think of Banana Yoshimoto’s Kitchen, but I know it’s not the same thing. This house:
“…can suck my body up instantly through a long straw
The house that buries its hands in a chocolate cake
The house where the seaweed of the wooden floor stick squeak-squeak to the soles of my feet
The house where my hair is laid out beneath the floor like black cotton…”
17. Fact: After reading this book, I have never been more afraid of water. It simply knows too much.
18. Am I smart because I’m a pig? Or am I a pig because I’m smart? I’m meaningless, fat and filled with sorrow and anxiety.
19. Oink, oink.
20. Not Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential. “Children’s eyeteeth.” I once thought I had it under control.
21. My soul smells. My mouth smells. The dirt between my toes. There have been several mentions of feces and shit. Yes I know that feces is shit.
22. I want to cry. I’m writing in public. I’m crying in public. And then I stop crying because “One drop two drops of urine-like rain are falling.”
23. The next poem I will read aloud to anyone will listen: Lips Stuck to a Landmine. And only partly because the word “bitch” appears six times.
24. I’m going to go home now and vomit or play with knives, or gnaw on my child, or shit out my body, or fly away.
25. That’s all.