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Open “The Last Day of Betty Nkomo” by Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries
This 2005 piece distinguishes itself from most of YHCHI’s earlier work in two ways: it is brief (about 2 minutes long) and it uses an Okinawan folk song (perhaps a version of “Asadoya Yunta”) rather than jazz. This compelling story is perfectly synchronized to the music, powerfully narrating the thought process of a woman who seems to by dying on the floor, trying to get up, but unable to. The chords played on the sanshin set a regular tempo for the song and poem, but its heartbeat-like rhythm slows down into an abrupt silence at the end of the song, marking Betty Nkomos’ death.
For a more detailed reading of this poem, read pgs. 157-161 of Giovanna Di Rosario’s dissertation “Electronic Poetry: Understanding Poetry in the Digital Environment.”
Featured in Poems That GO.