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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 2: March 2020
Poem: 68 words [R]
By Tanya Ko Hong

Soft as Rock

I should want nothing 
your kiss, touch, embrace 
not even the smile that says 
I know you 
I should not want 
to speak—my mouth should be a stone 
on this pillow beside you 

my mouth is open 
with longing, hungry 
to taste you 

Even stones yearn 
flowers grow 
between them 
glowing, the deep tree roots 
break apart with life 
sweetness pushing through like song

—Published previously in a slightly different version (and with the title “Denied”) in Unmasked: Women Write About Sex and Intimacy After Fifty (Weeping Willow Books, 2017). Poem is reprinted here with author’s permission from her book The War Still Within: Poems on the Korean Diaspora, available from KYSO Flash Press (November, 2019).

See also the book review by Alexandra Umlas in Cultural Weekly (11 March 2020).

Tanya Ko Hong
Issue 2, March 2020

Tanya Ko Hong (Hyonhye) is a poet, translator, and cultural-curator who champions bilingual poetry and poets. Born and raised in Suk Su Dong, South Korea, she immigrated to the U.S. at the age of eighteen. She is the author of five books: The War Still Within (KYSO Flash Press, 2019); Mother to Myself, a collection of poems in Korean (Purunsasang Press, 2015); Yellow Flowers on a Rainy Day (Oma Books of the Pacific, 2003); Mother’s Diary of Generation 1.5 (Qumran Publishing, 2002); and Generation 1.5 (Korea: Esprit Books, 1993).

Her poetry appears in Rattle, Beloit Poetry Journal, Entropy, Cultural Weekly, WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly (WSQ published by The Feminist Press), Lunch Ticket, great weather for MEDIA, Califragile, the Choson Ilbo, The Korea Times, Korea Central Daily News, and the Aeolian Harp Series Anthology, among others.

Tanya was one of two writers to receive the inaugural Yun Dong-ju Korean-American Literature Award in 2018. Her work was also a finalist in the 2018 Frontier Digital Chapbook Contest, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. In 2015, her segmented poem Comfort Woman [which is included in her recent book, The War Still Within] received an honorable mention from the Women’s National Book Association. Her poems have been translated into Korean, Japanese, and Albanian. In 2015 and 2018, she became the first person to translate and publish Arthur Sze’s poems in Korean.

Tanya serves on the Board of Directors of the AROHO Foundation (A Room of Her Own), is pursuing a Ph.D. in Mythological Studies at Pacifica Graduate Institute, and holds an MFA degree from Antioch University in Los Angeles and a Sociology degree from Biola University. She lives in southern California.

Author’s website: www.tanyakohong.com

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