The Temperature of This Water - reviewed by Tashal Brown
"The Temperature of This Water"By Ishle Park Publisher: Kaya Press Paperback 123 Pages Retail Price: 12.95
Ishle has got serious skills. Her first book, titled The Temperature of This Water, is filled with remarkably written poetry and prose. Her writing captures a youthful honesty that is refreshing and genuine. Ishle uses her words as a weapon to describe the nature of people and the pain that comes with love. The individuals described throughout the stories are brought to life and appear three-dimensional. She touches on several issues such as domestic violence and Asian American stereotypes, using honesty, which can be brutal but powerful in the same breath. Ishle's strength and passion lies in exploring herself and those closest to her. Her tone changes in certain pieces revealing different emotions and different sides of Ishle, her love for family and heritage as well friends and lovers.
The story paying respects to her girlfriends is heartfelt and an amazing portrayal of sisterly love. The poem "Zola Kei Mabel Hisae Chiati Cindy Feliz" is a wonderful representation of the closeness that can be shared between women. The poem tells of the strength that can be conjured up with the love and support of girlfriends.
"We both, dating motherless men (our parents refused to shake their outstretched hands), men who took our money, loved us with sheeting gripping, whirlwind passion, girlfriends' advice scattered like uprooted houses. We eye to I in the center of the storm."
"Jejudo Dreams" is another moving piece, which deals with coming to terms with identity and loving oneself. In this piece Ishle explores herself and her heritage. Ishle expresses the shame she once felt growing up because of several reasons, one, being her parents√≠ occupation. Longing to be in touch with her ancestors, she desires to embody their strength and no longer be ashamed but instead embrace her heritage.
"I erased my mother's memories and replaced them with rote school texts, learned to be ashamed of my parents, their accents, to interpret their hard earned smell as stink, to think diamond-cut eyes undesirable, some of us trying to Anglicize them with Elmer's glue or plastic surgery."
From reading Ishle's work, it appears as though Ishle artistically feeds of the energy and talent of fellow friends and poets. Her writing style can also be compared to that of poets such as Jessica Hagedorn author of the novel Dogeaters and Chilean Poet Pablo Neruda. Although the themes in certain stories may appear slightly repetitive, it works wells and aids in reinforcing her engagement and commitment to the characters. Ishle shies away from trying to be preacherly; instead she allows the stories to speak for themselves. Throughout the majority of the book the dialogue is written how she or her characters would speak, giving life to the writing. The book is easy to follow, and it holds the reader captive from start to finish. The Temperature of This Water is a beautiful coming of age story.