Annie Kim: “More Words for Snow”

More Words for Snow

Broken and unbroken,
toothless, houndless.

Unsplittable, unheard-of
sexy thing which
fireworks then disappears.

Word balloons to
dent the atmosphere like

………………..Don’t go home yet—touch me—
……….I remember how you looked.

Grief machine.
Killer of taxicab drivers
and kids in new buses,

well for skinny strays,
lost key heaven.
All the things I want
to say but forgot to, didn’t,

oceanic as the moon.
Othello in the sky tonight
lighting everything.


First published in Into the Cyclorama (Southern Indiana Review Press, 2016) and reprinted with permission of the press. The book is available for order at the SIR website and at Amazon.

Annie Kim is a poet, lawyer, and violinist. Her books are Eros, Unbroken (Word Works 2020), winner of the 2019 Washington Prize, recently named as a finalist for the 2020 Foreword INDIES Poetry Book of the Year, and Into the Cyclorama, winner of the Michael Waters Poetry Prize (Southern Indiana Review Press 2016). Kim’s poems have appeared in journals such as Beloit Poetry Journal, The Cincinnati Review, Four Way Review, The Kenyon Review, Narrative, Plume and Pleiades. A graduate of Warren Wilson College’s MFA Program for Writers and the recipient of fellowships from the Virginia Center for Creative Arts and Hambidge Center, Kim works at the University of Virginia School of Law as the Assistant Dean for Public Service. She teaches law students about public interest lawyering and writes essays for DMQ Review. Please visit her website to contact her and to read more work.


Poet’s Note

This poem is one of the last I wrote for Into the Cyclorama. Snow had fallen all throughout the manuscript, but I wasn’t done. I wanted more. I wanted to understand why this stuff coming down from the sky had such a hold on me, how it could be at once cruel and divine, corruptible and hope itself, both infinite and made to disappear. What surprised me the most was Othello’s appearance in the last stanza. His line, “Put out the light, and then put out the light,” is one of the saddest in Shakespeare. I liked placing him in the sky to do the opposite.


Commentary by Rebecca Foust, Poetry Editor

National Poetry Month is a good time to reflect on the wonderful work Amanda Moore and I have been fortunate to feature on Poetry Sunday over the last few years, more than 300 columns and poems. This April, and in Aprils going forward we plan to revisit columns published during our tenure, allowing the work of these phenomenal poets a new place in the sun and offering us the opportunity to revisit our thoughts and commentary in light of current circumstances. Whether you are a new reader or have been following from the beginning, we hope you will enjoy these reprises and will check out the deep archive of Poetry Sunday columns that Women’s Voices maintains here.

For National Poetry Month 2021, we are reprising columns by Asian American writers to recognize and celebrate the substantial contributions of Asian American Pacific Islander communities to our culture and also to acknowledge the recent racist killings in Atlanta and the precipitous increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in the United States in the past year. In revisiting these extraordinary poems and poets, we lift up their voices and stand in solidarity with them. Join us each Sunday in April to look back at work we’ve previously featured and to imagine the voices to come. Additionally, visit Stop AAPI Hate for more information on active ways to support the Asian American Pacific Islander Community.

“More Words for Snow” was the subject of a previous feature in Poetry Sunday on 1/8/17, and you can read that column’s in-depth craft analysis here.  It may feel a little late in the season to be featuring a poem about snow, but of course it is still snowing somewhere, and this poem’s larger themes of love, loss, language, and art are universally—and always—relevant. Another reason I am happy to reprise this poem and column is that Annie Kim recently released a new book, Eros Unbroken, and this provides me the opportunity feature an excerpt of a poem from it:


from The Hydrangeas

All winter they curled like parchment, a band-aid
torn off in the shower, stiffening into final shape.

Because you believe that survival means
no one can teach you how to live, strength appears

gradually from suffering—you hurried past them.
Snow flung its iron cape over their heads.

Then one day, nearly April, all the little crocus pinged.
Death under such circumstances being out of place,

you fetched your clippers, crouched beside the bush.
What dropped into your bag was weightless.


Because to live we must forget—at least pretend—
they’re back today as if nothing bad had happened,

blue as in the Quattrocento painting of a dying nymph,
where the mountain glides into a clear-bodied bay.

This early in the summer, there is nothing you can do.
They will become more and more themselves, intensify

in color, satisfy their simple wants through sun and rain.
Unlike us, their growing doesn’t cast a shadow. Unlike

poetry, they feel nothing below their surface.
No one tells them, dimpling in the sun, Remember this.


From Eros, Unbroken (Word Works 2020), reprinted here with permission of the press and author and originally published in Plume. Eros, Unbroken is available for order here. 

One reviewer describes Kim’s new book as braiding the narratives of two relationships, one between the speaker (a violinist) and her father, and another between an eighteenth-century castrato opera singer (Farinelli) and the composer Domenico Scarlatti. Just reading that was enough to make me order the book, and I am looking forward to reading it. especially after finding other excerpts from Eros Unbroken here.

Kim’s website also offers several recent videos of her reading poems from Eros, Unbroken. As in the excerpt above, the images in these poems are striking, and strikingly precise, often execute by means of remarkable, vivid verbs. Kim’s craft is skillful and subtle, and her poems embody a delicate beauty and dark power, loosely and confidently held.



Rebecca Foust is the author of three chapbooks and four books including ONLY, forthcoming from Four Way Books in 2022, and her poems are widely published, in The Hudson Review, Narrative, Ploughshares, Poetry, Southern Review and elsewhere. Recognitions include the 2020 Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry judged by Kaveh Akbar, the CP Cavafy and James Hearst poetry prizes, a Marin Poet Laureateship, and fellowships from The Frost Place, Hedgebrook, MacDowell, Sewanee, and West Chester Poetry Conference.



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