About the Poems
by Kim Young
“To Obscure a Body of Light” started off as a pantoum. I later abandoned the form, but it helped me untangle some of the kinks that were holding the older version of the poem back. Many of the poems in my manuscript surround the kidnapping and sexual assault of a family member, and this piece (along with “The Setting” and “The Parting”) plays with the idea of incorporating the overwhelming and mythic experience of trauma into some sort of manageable narrative. Of course, attempting to “make sense” of a senseless trauma through art also raises questions in the poems about the value, necessity, and futility of such an act.
“My Burgher Dollhouse” also began as a pantoum, and was written after a visit to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam when I was living in Germany. The dollhouses are smaller than a child’s playhouse, and the exhibit is set up so that visitors get to climb a ladder in order to peer into these miniature replications of the family’s actual home. From what I read, there was a sense of status attached to these dollhouses, and it struck me that the Burghers, along with their affluent families, would spend such time and energy creating this replication, this façade, of their actual worlds.
“Outer Space” not only references the explosion of the Challenger Space Shuttle, but attempts to re-imagine the atmosphere of my own adolescence. I’d be flattered to think the poem might reflect a specific generation or place (namely Southern California)—but the heart of the piece is really about reconciling one’s faith with a complex, overwhelming, and, at times, frightening universe.