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What Have You Done to Our Ears to Make Us Hear Echoes by Arlene Kim

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What Have You Done to Our Ears is the debut collection of poetry by first generation American poet Arlene Kim. Mixing fairy tales and Korean folk tales, Kim creates a surreal world where family and tradition collide with temptation and danger. This is a place where stolen sisters return "missing some part" and mothers and fathers disappear into the "dark milk" woods leaving orphaned children. "Season of the Frog", a personal favorite, is based on a Korean folk tale of a disobedient frog rebelling against his mother's wishes. Echoes of the conflict facing children of immigrant families, struggling to maintain cultural traditions in the face of assimilation, rise through in lines such as:

There is more world
and it is too sweet
to deny. Though I tried
to listen. I could not
follow your song

Be sure to read the notes portion of the collection as it explains many of the Korean folk tales and symbolism that may otherwise pass unnoticed. If you are interested in more poetry with inventive takes of fairy tales, check out The Poets' Grimm: 20th Century Poems from Grimm Fairy Tales.

Kristina @ MPL Central

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