Eddie Kim, Pt. 1: "Food is essentially how my family communicates."

For each day of National Poetry Month one of our fellows will explore the breadth of poetry in three ways: through a question from another fellow, through a poem and through a writing prompt, #writetoday.

Jason Bayani asks, The poems I’ve read from you seem to bring up food a lot.If your collection of poems was represented by a buffet style spread at a family party, what could we expect to be feasting upon?

Eddie Kim answers, Food is essentially how my family communicates. It’s how we show affection towards one another and say what we’re often incapable of saying – or maybe unwilling to say. Which is why food is featured so heavily in my collection. The foods and poems revolve around family, place, nostalgia, past hurts and losses and an inability to express/discuss them. The poems have openness, but a sense of distance as well; they’re guarded. As such, Spam fried rice might be the perfect dish to represent my collection (what’s in Spam is also unspeakable/unknowable). For me, it’s comfort food, familiar; it holds history and a sense of conversation with family and the past. It represents the combining of two cultures – Spam having been introduced to Koreans by US soldiers during the Korean War. It encapsulates the cultural and generational mélange represented by my family and in my poems. Also, there would be kimchi.


The Whale

There was only one road out of town,
and it led to the dump. We went
shooting there, scaring off bears, birds
and barrels. A shore on one side
of the road, open tundra full of ptarmigan

on the other. Once, a whale lay beached
on perfect skipping stones. I watched as gulls pock-
marked its grey-blue skin turning it flesh.
Crowds of people stood watching.

Cemetery Hill wrapped just around the corner.
We went sledding there, just off
Dead-man’s Curve, landing in bush
and snow. The tundra offered blueberries,
cranberries. I can still remember the taste

of dirt speckled sweet. Back then,
I set booby-traps in the bush to protect
myself from bullies, and my brother and I
shot arrows at each other. In summer,
we avoided lost lures as we swam in the bay.


All for freedom and for pleasure, nothing ever lasts forever… everybody wants to rule the world.