Creature Feature: Koji A. Dae, Scars That Never Bled

I’m taking a little bit of a different approach this month. A friend of mine released her first ever poetry chapbook early this August and it. Is. Gorgeous. Of course if you’re worried that poetry isn’t horror enough, then you’re in for a treat.

When I first got my hands on this chapbook I couldn’t wait to dig in. Horror-y goodness comes in many packages but for me, poetry is extra special. Emotional and deeply personal, poetry has a way of reaching to the core of who we are. It allows us introspection and a way to relate with the triumphs, pain, and struggles others face. Horror immerses us in a world where monsters roam unchecked and darkness pervades all we are. Put them together and we begin to question, what is man? What is monster? What separates us and what makes us the same? This book delivered on every level.

Scars That Never Bled is an exploration of Frankenstein through poetic form, paralleling themes from Mary Shelley’s literary classic with issues that remain relevant today. If you’ve ever felt outcast, alone, or rejected, this book is for you. If you’ve ever felt like a stranger in your own skin, this book is for you. Koji A. Dae isn’t afraid to explore the darker aspects of our humanity, questioning our morals, our need to categorize, the pains of womanhood, birth, and creation. She tackles themes of depression and self harm all with honesty and precise, beautiful language.

Each chapter has been beautifully divided into tarot cards—one of the first seven major arcana—shedding light on the creature’s journey from a different perspective. I worked through these chapters slowly. Often I would read two, maybe three poems in a sitting and take the time to meditate and reflect on what I’d read. I saw myself in each and every poem. I could relate to the struggles of the characters, of the author, on both sympathetic and personal levels.

The first chapter is admittedly my favorite. It follows the creature (The Fool) from his birth, to rejection, to his demand for another like him. The creature has always been my favorite as I see his struggle as the most human. The last poem in this chapter, titled :Language,” was, in my opinion, one of the strongest of the set. The creature learns to speak, a painful process with no guidance, but through the pain he learns to speak up for himself and gains the strength to say “no.”

If you enjoy Frankenstein, you’ll love this modern reinterpretation of a classic. I highly recommend this book for poetry and horror fans alike. If you’re intimidated by poetry, don’t be! Koji’s writing remains deep and beautiful without overly complex language. While it can easily be read in an afternoon, I recommend taking your time with this one.

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