"Contagious Poetry": Jessica Lawson on Kim Hyesoon

by on Apr.10, 2011

Jessica Lawson has written a great, insightful review of Kim Hyesoon’s poetry over at the new Jacket online journal, “Contagious Poetry”:

“The patient’s disease threatens to reach out beyond the body and invade others, moving with the force of a river that cannot be dammed even when the word river is carefully broken up. Meaning manages to leak out even in the face of verbal mutilation and constant interruption, so that the poem operates by a contagion that spreads among words and makes collective sense of them. Poetry is a virus, its semiotic contagion infusing bodies and connecting us to one another and to the language with which we are infected. Viewed in this way, poetry is both an intimately corporeal act and a guerilla-style revolution in the politics of expression.”

Lawson’s emphasis on the body as a two way street of violence and politics suggests a connection to what Joyelle and I called “soft surrealism” a while back (yes, we intentionally misread Ron Silliman’s phrase to critique his politics; yes we were totally talking about poets like Kim Hyesoon, not actually the poets Ron was talking about), as well as Mark Seltzer’s idea of “wound culture,” where collectivity is gathered around wounds.

Not to mention Joyelle’s recent entry where she compares the way Kim Hyesoon and Camille Rose Garcia’s bodies deal with pollution and contamination.

Anyway, I think this was a really thoughtful essay, an important essay for putting the body – not as a simple “realness” but as something more complicated and interesting – in to the discussion of poetry and especially the poetry of Kim Hyesoon, one of my absolutely favorite living writers, whose book, All the Garbage of the World Unite! will be published by Action Books this fall.

3 comments for this entry:
  1. don mee

    Thanks Johannes!
    Just wanted to share Bruce Fulton’s comment about Jessica’s review:
    “It is remarkable,probably the most thorough English-language review of a work of Korean literature in translation I have ever read.”

  2. Johannes

    Well, that’s a big compliment coming from such an authority on Korean lit. I hope Jessica reads this.

  3. Jessica

    This is Jessica — I was directed to this page by one of the Jacket2 editors. I am deeply moved everyone’s comments, and very excited to discover that my review has become a part of this larger conversation. Thank you.