May 28, 2015

10-year-old South Korean poet shows up Bartleby


a-single-dog-korean-childrens-bookSouth Korean publisher Chulganil is recalling copies of A Single Dog—an anthology of poems written by children, published at the end of March—after parents expressed heated objections to some of the poems’ material.

Of particular note is “On a Day You Don’t Want to Go to Hakwaon,” by a 10-year-old girl named Lee. It offers some advice for what to do when you don’t want to go to school and is accompanied by an illustration of a bloody-faced girl taking a bite out of human heart.

The poem is reprinted below in its entirety:

When you don’t want to go to hakwon,
like this

Chew and eat your mom
Boil and eat her, bake and eat her
Spoon her eyeballs and eat them,
Pick out all of her teeth
Tear her hair out
Turn her into lean meat and eat as soup
If she sheds tears, lick them up
Eat her heart last

So it’s the most painful.

Grisly! But also an objectively brilliant, next level “I Would Prefer Not To.” Bartleby would approve.

A UPI report notes that’s not even the only poem in the book that suggest killing your mother: “A Single Dog also contains a poem called “The Cannibal Doll,” about a child whose mother is eaten by a knife-wielding doll.”


Taylor Sperry is an editor at Melville House.