Koon Woon, 8/31/2015

Current Occupation: Koon's current occupation is mathematics and logic tutor, freelance writer, editor, literary consultant and publisher.
Previous Occupation: Koon's previous occupations include running a restaurant and as an employee of the US Postal Service.
Contact Information: Koon Woon has done many odd jobs and full-time work includes being a US Postman, factory worker, and manager of a restaurant. He has written poetry for a long time and has two full length collections from Kaya Press at the University of Southern California. He won an American Book Award in 2014. He enjoys occasional forays into mathematics and philosophy. Presently he edits an online journal Five Willows Literary Review and runs a literary press Goldfish Press in Seattle.

 

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When Kafka Is Unhappy…

 

    When Kafka is unhappy, he paces about his room in the rooming house known as "The Castle." He shares the carpet with a little girl ghost as she runs back and forth, stepping over his slippers, humming Leonard Cohen's tune "Suzanne," and ignores the writer/lawyer altogether.

She has a mind of her own, thinks Franz. But I have to keep my windows shut so that caterpillars can't get in here and eat what's left of my bagel with cream cheese.

 

    Being a lawyer and working for the Disability Compensation Bureau, Kafka sees many people down on their luck. One mistake in the workplace can cost you your hand or an arm. And a ton of bricks can fall on you at the factory if the forklift guy isn't looking out for you. And so you join the union. Safety in numbers.

 

    The other day Max Brod came over and wanted to be literary executor of his novels. Franz is not so eager to publish his works in his lifetime. "Just think, my dear Franz, with your clean prose, elegant and Spartan, and your ideas, what ideas! How can you deprive the world of this literary feast?" Franz remains mum. He is afraid that success, if it does come, would spoil his anonymity and even misrepresent him. I wrote because of these maddening ideas, and in no way am I going to betray my little girl ghost in my room.

 

    Kafka does lament that the door of his room leads to the communal den. And when he leaves or comes he needs to see other boarders eating at the communal table where Joe leans his bicycleS . He is careful not to let the girl ghost out of the room. He always worry that she is too thin and has an eating disorder. He usually buys a loaf of bread, cheese, and liverwurst and hides it in his lawyer's bag for the girl. She never touches the food.

 

    And so Kafka ends up eating what he brought for the girl ghost, and thinks about justice in a small way. It is overly misrepresented, he thinks. We lock ghosts up and they haven't done us the least harm. He thought about a passage from Leonard Cohen's early poems, "I wonder, when I look out the window of the furnished room, how many people are looking back at me?"

 

    Kafka kept on writing throughout the night. He knows that on a cold, cold day, his manuscript can make a pale fire. The thought of that makes him feel warm. He ignores the little girl ghost as she raced up and down the carpet. Writing was his real job.

 

 

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