Eating [먹다], 2021
“Eating” is a work of concrete poetry that explores the difficulties of Korean pronunciation from the perspective of a native English speaker. My family is Korean, but I hardly know how to speak or understand the language, so I harbor a lot of guilt and shame whenever I try to speak, particularly once my grandma began living with us a few years ago. My mispronunciations are a constant reminder of the distance that exists between us. There are many sounds in Korean that simply do not exist in English, and as I began to study the language a little on my own, I noticed that I struggled to differentiate between lax, aspirated, and tense consonants. In the work, I wanted to emphasize the materiality of experiencing language (rice, flesh, and persimmon), so I used several different kinds of paper, including hanji paper (a traditional kind of Korean paper made from the bark of a mulberry tree) to evoke the texture of rice paper. I also find that the process of lifting the hanji paper to reveal the next page is almost like peeling away layers of skin, which could be said to represent my attempt to shed the mental blocks preventing me from reaching (or "touching," so to speak) my grandma.