Hottentot Venus

By Cathy Park Hong
Overheard in the heat, the air, the fruit fly’s drone
of the perfect helix, overheard in science’s repartee

of right and wrong, in the gossip of perfumed women
basking in London’s charmless sun,

Overheard in the gasps of penny sideshows, the formulas
of doctors summing up freaks in taxidermic clinics,

Overheard in the echo of cubic hallways,
in the speculum’s wand first tested on the slave woman,

Overheard in history’s senile tympanum

was a Song.

Rain irrigating fact, jars mapping name,
Recollect my throat, my organs, my bones

Cathy Park Hong, “Hottentot Venus” from Translating Mo’um. Copyright © 2002 by Cathy Park Hong. Reprinted by permission of Hanging Loose Press.

Source: Translating Mo’um (Hanging Loose Press, 2002)

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Poet Cathy Park Hong

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Music, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Popular Culture

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Cathy Park Hong


Cathy Park Hong is the author of Translating Mo'um, (Hanging Loose Press, 2002); Dance Dance Revolution (W.W. Norton, 2007), winner of the Barnard New Women Poets Prize; and Engine Empire (W.W. Norton, 2012). She is the recipient of fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation, the NEA, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. Her writing on politics and her reviews have appeared in the Village Voice, the Guardian, Salon, . . .

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SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Music, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Popular Culture

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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