We first published Arhm Choi Wild’s work on our blog last June. Today, it’s our privilege to spotlight their debut collection, Cut to Bloom, which just launched last week. Cut to Bloom is a remarkable chronicle of love and loss, trauma and survival in which Wild’s singular voice and clarity of vision shine. In celebration of the book’s release this month, Wild and their publisher, Write Bloody, were kind enough to allow us to run an excerpt. The poem that follows, “13th Anniversary,” is a poignant meditation on labor, a tribute to the speaker’s mother and her years in the dry cleaning business. In the spareness of the prose form and the musical lilt of Wild’s language, we see a portrait of a parent for whom work, struggle, and sacrifice are a daily, lived expression of devotion and love. We hope that you’ll enjoy this sneak peek of Cut to Bloom—and that it will inspire you to check out the rest of the collection. It’s not one to miss!
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She walks in alone after hours, all the machines quiet though she can’t hate them today. The dry-cleaning tank is square and tall so she must stand on tip-toes to run her parched hands along the top, muttering old Korean in neat strands of sound. A piece of skin flakes off when she rubs the metal of the shirt press. The spot with burn stains, she circles twice. Every year she comes to thank the machines that break on her—thank them for the days they clean hundreds of sweaters and baskets of shirts, thank them for feeding her daughters though not her heart. She bows to the sheet metal too bent to reflect, creaks to her knees and rests her forehead on top of her hands in the ritual she has been handed down from her own mother, who will never know that her opera singer has come to worship the machines.
From Cut to Bloom by Arhm Choi Wild (Write Bloody Publishing, April 2020). Excerpt published with permission. | Purchase ($16) at Write Bloody Publishing
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Arhm Choi Wild is a queer, Korean-American poet who grew up in the slam community of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and went on to perform across the country, including at Brave New Voices, the New York City Poetry Festival, and Asheville Wordfest. Arhm is a Kundiman fellow with an MFA in Poetry from Sarah Lawrence College and was a finalist for the Jake Adam York Prize in 2019. Their work appears in the Daring to Repair Anthology, The Queer Movement Anthology of Literatures, Barrow Street, The Massachusetts Review, Split this Rock, Foglifter, Hyphen, Lantern Review, F(r)iction, and other publications. They work as the director of the Progressive Teaching Institute and as a diversity coordinator at a school in New York City.