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Distributed for CavanKerry Press

A Half-Life

A poetry collection centered on the Korean American experience.

The term “half-life” is used to describe radioactive decay, pharmaceutical drugs, rocks, the atoms of our human bodies, and even technological products. Using this idea as a starting point, A Half-Life provides a rare glimpse into the Korean American experience. The poems utilize the literal metaphor of the highway as the intersecting point of America, Asia, and the globe, to reflect on the emotional and physical journeys many Asian Americans take. From Chicago to Seattle, from the biographical to the fictional, from current times to the Korean and Vietnam wars, A Half-Life covers the joy and pain, the probable and improbable, the individual and communal—the cultural histories we all share.

104 pages | 6 x 9

Poetry


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Reviews

“David Cho’s poems evoke experiences of growing up Korean American, loving Chicago, and meditating on roadkill at the same time that they signal an awareness of themselves as verbal constructions. Hence, in a poem about the hyphen—that iconic signifier of ethnic American identity—punctuation itself takes on a life of its own; in a poem ostensibly about love for his wife, the speaker offers an encomium to the Windy City; and in a poem about roadkill, the speaker invites the reader to address the dead deer directly. What does it mean to be a second-generation American? How do you write a love poem? What can death teach us? A Half-Life at once grapples with these and other important questions and resists reductive answers.”

Floyd Cheung

“At the heart of David Cho’s A Half-Life is a narrative journey of Harry Kim, an American son, born to immigrant Korean parents, learning to become American in the heart of America, treading a line between two cultures, embracing a lineage more complex than most American boys and young men, and finding a way to belong in the country he was born in with both heart and spirituality and desire.”

Shawn Wong

Table of Contents

I. Sovereign Asymmetries

A Circle of Fragments
Existential Poem #1
Existential Poem #2
Existential Poem #3
Gravity’s Pull
Spring in Seattle
Lullaby


II. Poems for Harry

A Young Boy’s Life
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Growing Up Harry: Harry’s Jr. High Linguistic Lessons
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
The Edge
Harry’s Playboys
1.
2.
3.
4.
Cheers for Harry
1.
2. From the Bleachers
3. The Walk Home
The Locker Room
1.
2.
The Ballerina
After the Concert
Harry Meets the Father
Praise for Prozac: Notes from Harry’s Journal


III. Journeys of a Hyphen

A Love Poem for My Wife
The Apology
Entropy
1.
2.
Chicago Highway Poems
1. Lake Shore Drive
2. 94 East
3. I-90
Indiana Highway Poems
1. I-65
2. Route 231
3. Lafayette, IN
The Hyphen

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