Poor Love Machine

Kim Hyesoon, trans. from the Korean by Don Mee Choi. Action (SPD, dist.), $16 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-0-900575-75-4
In this translation of her 1997 collection, acclaimed Korean feminist poet Kim (Sorrowtoothpaste Mirrorcream) overturns poetry from every angle and through enjambments replete with the grotesqueries of vomit, eyeballs, rats, and more. Kim’s poems do not shirk from , but instead shriek at , with a sense of inventive and irreverent disorder. She dizzies readers and seduces them into a surreal realm of corporeality: “He picks up a teardrop with a pair of tweezers.” The monstrous body remains a vital figure in these poems, and Kim’s speaker assumes imaginative and precise postures of disfigurement. In “Sunstroke,” for example, she writes, “As my eyes open/a flock of crows darts out from my ears/Their beaks poke at my pupils.” Like the crows Kim describes, her poetry ruptures the reader’s senses repeatedly. Throughout, Kim’s poking and prodding remains directed primarily at the speaker’s own body: “When I tear the screen of my body/holograms burst out/and I can go to you.” The playful nature of the poems may disguise the darker and more political undertones of the collection. As Kim embraces that which terrifies, she presses readers to ask themselves, “Have you ever turned on the light inside your intestine?” (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 10/03/2016
Release date: 05/01/2016
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