Yi Won confronts a wired, technological world, often in the mirror, in these inventive, daring and subversive poems. A successor to Korean feminist poets like Kim Hyesoon, Yi Won frequently writes about the perilousness of maintaining one’s human identity in a high-tech, digital environment. In this debut book in English, her poems range from avant-garde prose poems to more lyrical (if dark) free verse, as she examines isolation, loneliness, death, and the passage of time — and in the process, upends polite society and Korean literary culture.
Yi Won is one of the most fascinating and exciting poets to emerge after the oppressive decades of South Korea’s military dictatorship. Her renowned and influential predecessor, Kim Hyesoon, notes that “young Korean women poets are developing a terrain of poetry that is combative, visceral, subversive, inventive, and ontologically feminine.” Yi Won’s highly inventive poetry creates a new surreal terrain in which bodies and everyday objects, capitalist commodities, exist side by side and interact, often violently. E. J. Koh and Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello, two brilliant Korean American poets, have invented astonishing language for Yi Won’s subversive poetry. —Don Mee Choi, 2021 MacArthur Fellow and National Book Award winning author of DMZ Colony