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About this poet

Born in 1969, Suji Kwock Kim was educated at Yale College; the Iowa Writers' Workshop; Seoul National University, where she was a Fulbright Scholar; and Stanford University, where she was a Stegner Fellow. Her first book of poems, Notes from the Divided Country (Louisiana State University Press, 2003) was chosen by Yusef Komunyakaa for the 2002 Walt Whitman Award.

Kim's work has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry, Paris Review, The Nation, The New Republic, DoubleTake, Yale Review, Salmagundi, Threepenny Review, Ploughshares, New England Review, Southwest Review, Harvard Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Asian-American Poetry: The Next Generation, and other journals and anthologies.

She is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, as well as The Nation/ "Discovery" Award and grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts, California Arts Council, Washington State Artist Trust, Korea Foundation and Blakemore Foundation for Asian Studies. Private Property, a multimedia play she co-wrote, was produced at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and was featured on BBC-TV. She divides her time between San Francisco and New York.

Monologue for an Onion

Suji Kwock Kim

I don't mean to make you cry.
I mean nothing, but this has not kept you
From peeling away my body, layer by layer,

The tears clouding your eyes as the table fills
With husks, cut flesh, all the debris of pursuit.
Poor deluded human: you seek my heart.

Hunt all you want. Beneath each skin of mine
Lies another skin: I am pure onion--pure union
Of outside and in, surface and secret core.

Look at you, chopping and weeping. Idiot.
Is this the way you go through life, your mind
A stopless knife, driven by your fantasy of truth,

Of lasting union--slashing away skin after skin
From things, ruin and tears your only signs
Of progress? Enough is enough.

You must not grieve that the world is glimpsed
Through veils. How else can it be seen?
How will you rip away the veil of the eye, the veil

That you are, you who want to grasp the heart
Of things, hungry to know where meaning
Lies. Taste what you hold in your hands: onion-juice,

Yellow peels, my stinging shreds. You are the one
In pieces. 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.

From Notes from the Divided Country by Suji Kwock Kim. Copyright © 2003 by Suji Kwock Kim. Reproduced with permission of Louisiana State University Press. All rights reserved.

Suji Kwock Kim

Suji Kwock Kim

Suji Kwock Kim was educated at Yale College; the Iowa Writers' Workshop; Seoul