The Yellow Book
for The Yellow Book
"This startling book by Sam Cha is going to make a difference in the way we think about exodus, migration, oceanic breaks in our speech patterns and our points of view. What does America do to a new child who is learning how to live in it? What disruptions are given to the rivers of thought developed over centuries in another country, a child's mind nourished by voices that are now not heard. This book gives a reader the time to study that mystery in silence. It's a gift."
"The Yellow Book is a dazzling and epic odyssey. To me, it fulfills my unfulfilled hunger for a kind of noir poetry, specifically Korean American, which means plain old American, because America is nothing without its violence, white supremacy, Orientalism, vapidity, butt-hurt vicious sadistic white racial grievances, and delusions of grandeur. Cha’s lightning-fast language play within Greek chorus-like counter-accusations is a thing of beauty, 'Your woodsman whiskers, wolves. Your gingersnap sideburns. Your white bread sneer. Your clean cut fester. Your whitter and fleer. Will you devour us raw? Will you ripen us like pheasants? In your smokehouse of ANFO and sulfur. In your hateful eat and ate and ate.' The Yellow Book pierces history like a thread and sews the fabric of our manic discontent, our Luce Irigaray, our Lucy Liu, our Jack London, our Chow Yun Fat, our Obama, our Madame Butterfly, our Tilda Swinton, our Robinson Crusoe, our Jesus, our Netflix, our Margaret Atwood, our H.P. Lovecraft and everything else. The poetics of exhaustion because being an American immigrant is a full-time job, and the poet’s job is to make its strangeness as visible, as anguished, and as absurd as it often is. Our pride, our shame, our love/hate affair with English, the juicy prosody—it’s all here in abundance. Cha’s poetic sensibilities and sensitivities are white-hot! Buy this book! '…then gush / bright red splatter on your page / iron & copper in your nostrils / the body writes its sentence.' Damn!"
-Sun Yung Shin
"This book isn’t interested in mollifying you or in telling you everything will be okay. It’s not interested in making itself feel better, either: it unflinchingly challenges and indicts its own speakers and its author. This book is interested in the way historical violence is intertwined with the contemporary; in how subjects are made and unmade; in resisting the allure of easy salvation; in monsters, in aliens, in ugly spirits, in gods, in punchlines, in footnotes, and in traipsing trochees. Its genre is a “mixture,” a “layering,” an "improvisatory leap.” In it, as Cha writes of pansori, there are moments where 'you think / the singer is merely speaking / but then / all at once' that 'speech crosses the line into song.' Listen to the chorus of this living, breathing archive. It won’t save you, and it doesn’t want to. But it will 'suffuse the day.'”