In her first collection, Suji Kwock Kim confronts a number of difficult subjects: colonialism, the Korean War, emigration, racism, and love. She considers what a homeland would be for a divided nation and a divided self: what it means to enter language, the body, the family, the community; to be a daughter, sister, lover, citizen, or exile.
In settings from New York to San Francisco, from Scotland to Seoul, her poems question “what threads hold / our lives together” in cities and gardens, battlefields and small towns. Across the no-man’s-land between every you and I, her speakers encounter, quarrel with, or honor others, traveling between the living and the dead, between horror over the disastrous events of the past and hope for the future. Drawing upon a wide range of voices, styles, and perspectives, Notes from the Divided Country bears witness to the vanishing world. Here is a rare new talent in American poetry, showcased in this dazzling debut.
Whatever you meant to love, in meaning to
You changed yourself: you are not who you are,
Your soul cut moment to moment by a blade
Of fresh desire, the ground sown with abandoned skins.
And at your inmost circle, what? A core that is
Not one. Poor fool, you are divided at the heart,
Lost in its maze of chambers, blood, and love,
A heart that will one day beat you to death.
Excerpted from “Monologue for an Onion” published in Notes from the Divided Country: Poemsby Suji Kwock Kim. Copyright © 2003 by Suji Kwock Kim. All rights reserved.
Source: publisher’s website