Monica Ong’s “The Glass Larynx”

I’ve been enjoying the two poems from Monica Ong’s new book Silent Anatomies (Kore Press, 2015) which were featured yesterday in Hyperallergic‘s excellent poetry series (edited by Joe Pan).

This is “The Glass Larynx,” which, in opening Silent Anatomies, acts as a kind of proem, an announcement of articulation:

glass-larynx-ONG-h

 

In a brief interview, Ong explains the importance of “The Glass Larynx” as the first piece in the book and provides some useful context:

“The Glass Larynx” is a contrapuntal poem between Medica, the narrator, and the philosopher Chuang Tzu. She is challenging the idea of silence as the Way. Chuang Tzu’s lines are from “Action and Non-Action,” where he posits silence and stillness as the “root of all things.” Perhaps that is nice if one lives alone on a mountain. Yet we live in an age where “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter,” as Dr. Martin Luther King said.

What if attaining the Way is not silence but in our refusal to be silenced? “The Glass Larynx” is Medica’s invitation to the reader.

I also read “The Glass Larynx” as a nod to Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s groundbreaking Dictée (1982)–in particular this diagram, which occurs in the middle of Cha’s book, right after the suggestive lines “Void the words. / Void the silence”:

from DICTEE

~ by Michael Leong on June 11, 2015.

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