Wednesday, 10 September 2014

A Poem about North Korean Cannibalism

A Poem about North Korean Cannibalism
As regular readers of this blog will know, I have been preoccupied with North Korea over the last few years. Sometimes a poem is a better way to express one’s reactions to horrific events than an academic piece or even a quasi-academic blog.
I have been writing and publishing poetry for the last 35 years: I publish mainly locally, one or two poems a year. The poem below was a runner-up in an Ontario poetry contest.  It was published in Arborealis: A Canadian Anthology of Poetry, edited by K.V. Skane (Toronto: Beret Day and Ontario Poetry Society, 2014) on page 82.  It’s about a dream I had after reading about cannibalism in North Korea, where state-induced famine drives people to such terrible acts.
For more on North Korea, see three of my earlier blogs
1.      “North Korea: Still One of the World’s Most Awful Places to Live (and Die)” , http://rhodahassmann.blogspot.ca/2013_10_01_archive.html;
2.      “Cannibalism in North Korea” March 20, 2013,  http://rhodahassmann.blogspot.ca/2013/03/cannibalism-in-north-korea.html
3.       “North Korean Slave Labour, September 11, 2012, http://rhodahassmann.blogspot.ca/2012/09/north-korean-slave-labour-in-this.html.
You could also read my article *2012. “State-Induced Famine and Penal Starvation in North Korea,” Genocide Studies and Prevention, vol.7, no. 2/3, pp. 147-65.
Here is the poem:
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READING ABOUT CANNIBALISM

during the day,
feeling comfortably outraged
about events of the distant past
or even what’s happening now
far away

I read gruesome descriptions
of digging up dead bodies
            to eat them before the dogs
            get at them

and killing neighbours’ children
or eating your own kids
once they’ve died
if they still have a little meat on them
           
I think I’m OK:
in the evenings
I crochet away the images
admire the pink blanket as it grows
imagine the baby it will comfort

But then I dream
of chaos, dirt, anger;
of a large man in an orange shirt
cutting and sawing
sawing and cutting

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