Tuesday, August 23, 2022


This was a lovely book to read outdoors on a lovely day, Connotary, by Ae Hee Lee (Bull City Press, 2021), with a lovely cover, Green Flash, by Stephanie Law. I don't know what "connotary" means, but maybe there's an idea of connotations. Each poem title has a doubleness built into it, and each poem evokes place, or memory, or connection. In the first, "Hyu::In-Between," I learned about real jujubes, not the candy jujubes I remember from my own childhood: "It's a quiet

     and passionate affair--to dwell
          in the meanwhile, with a waiting so bright

     red like the beads of jujube fruits
          our grandmother used to dry

     out in the yard, so they would amass all
          the sweetness of the world in their little bodies.

That right there shows you how the poems will somehow do the same! I appreciate the cooking, the eating. In "Kimchi::In Trujillo": 

     My mother's measuring tool: her intuition, her philosophy
     that a fixation with perfection deters one from pouring jeong
     into the food. Jeong, she teaches me, is love
     that comes with time...

I loved, in "El Milagro::Edges," the eating of a pineapple down to its core, or not, depending on your culture, and how its juicy sweetness relates back to this:

     Once I read each heart knows
     its own bitterness,

     and no one else
     can share its joy.

And ends up here:

     She eats until her hands empty,
     while I don't. It's hard
     and not so sweet.

I learned so much from this book, and I hope you will, too. And that you will love the surprise of the perfect ending. That also pours its jeong into the world.

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