Rough, and Savage
by Sun Yung Shin (Coffee House Press)
In this inspired follow-up to her award-winning debut Skirt Full of Black, Sun Yung Shin presents explosively imaginative poems that are never untethered from experiential reality. It’s Shin’s genius to seamlessly wed the imaginary, the dream-wrought, and the mythical with the historical, the hard and factual. Shin is a collagist by nature, and her poems include redactions from the Metamorphoses and the CIA’s World Factbook alongside references and excerpts from histories, fairy tales, and religious texts.
"[These] accumulated poems [are] a smoldering tragedy, a heady descent, songs from a pit where what glints may be gems or the moon off snake scales."—Douglas Kearney
"Shin’s ambitious and complicated text takes on the complexities of Korean history, exposing what was hidden and, in doing so, exposing the fact that much more has been erased and obscured." —Hazel and Wren
"Shin’s poetic gestures (her publisher’s press materials dub the style “lyrical collage”) are suggestive but slippery, working on the reader’s mind like half-remembered dreams: vivid and visceral, revelatory in the moment of experience but revealed as gossamer in the sunshine of waking memory, leaving in their wake a tantalizing but unmoored sense of significance." —Knight Arts
Sun Yung Shin's poems animate the elements of the epic poem and Korean history across a dystopian dreamscape of fairy tale and folklore. Filled with pithy observations and striking lyrics, this collection explores alienation, moral isolation, and nationhood.
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Her first book of poems Skirt Full of Black (Coffee House Press) received the Asian American Literary Award for Poetry in 2008. She is the co-editor of Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption(South End Press) and the author of bilingual Korean/English illustrated book for children Cooper’s Lesson (Children's Book Press).
She has received artist grants and fellowships from the Archibald Bush Foundation, twice from the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Jerome Foundation, Blacklock Nature Sanctuary, and the Loft Literary Center. She has taught writing at the University of Minnesota, St. Catherine University, the Loft Literary Center and elsewhere in the community.
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Praise for Skirt Full of Black:
"What happens in a world where language fails us? Sun Yung Shin’s poetry collection, Skirt Full of Black, fills in the gaps between language and between the past and present by crafting poems that dip from many pots. Shin’s eye is a critical one: This poet is definitely conscious of the social ramifications of not only her poems but also of different cultures’ practices, the news, traditions, and faerie tales. The poems in this collection are like a collage: there are different voices, material, and subject matter. What unites the pieces of these poems is their critical gaze: nothing escape’s this poet’s eye. The world seems open for the taking and for examination." - Great American Pinup, 2008
"Shin references Susan Howe channeling Emily Dickinson, even as she collages/collapses Hans Christian Andersen's 'The Wild Swans' into a poem about femininity (the good girl vs. the witch), about travel, about lineage, and above all about silence." Tinfish Editor's Blog, 2009