Orphan

Joseph Han was born in Seoul, Korea and raised in Honolulu, Hawai‘i. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in English at the University of Hawai‘i-Manoa, where he won the 2015 Academy of American Poets Prize.

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Orphan
By Joseph Han • 2015 •  OUT OF PRINT
Design by Jeff Sanner
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Joseph Han takes the Korean tourist industry of cosmetic surgery as the basis for his investigation of identity; caught between languages, between countries, between parents in Seoul and grandparents in Honolulu, and between the ideal and the real nose, he writes as an orphan obliged to self-invent. A sometimes searing look at the pain of migration, there’s plenitude in the paths available to him as a poet. This is the inaugural chapbook by a promising young poet and fiction writer.

 

Excerpt: Ode to alternative skin care

My radiance is regime: Cleopatra

bathing in goat’s milk, a sleep mask

mocking tomorrow with the wet skin

of a ghost I pretend to be, red dragon

blood resin fights my ancient war

with acne. When I run out of funds,

I pluck starfish from reefs and shores,

blending them for extract to treat

dehydrated looks. I collect snails from

gardens and feed them red ginseng

to ensure quality slime, whipping

this with guts into cream d’escargot

body lotion and blemish balm.

Nothing stops my daily routine.

Not even the horse I butchered

for unsaturated fatty acids, the pig

I strangled for collagen peptide making

skin elastic. This is how I farm.

 


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