26 October 17 | Kaija Straumanis

The latest addition to our Reviews section is a piece by Jacob Rogers on I Am a Season That Does Not Exist in the World by Kim Kyung Ju, published by Black Ocean.

We don’t seem to run many poetry reviews of late on Three Percent (something I’d sorely like to have change!!), but I’m very happy to have a review up for a book from Black Ocean—a press that’s been around for as long as Open Letter has (if not longer—I spoke with publisher Janaka Stucky at last year’s AWP in D.C., but don’t remember all the details because, well, AWP), but has only fairly recently started to publish in translation (again, I could be wrong, but again, AWP-brain). Their covers are great, and they’re cool people, and based on Jacob’s review, I’m happy they’ve joined the community of publishers publishing in translation!

Here’s the beginning of Jacob’s review:

Kim Kyung Ju’s I Am a Season That Does Not Exist in the World, translated from the Korean by Jake Levine, is a wonderful absurdist poetry collection. It’s a mix of verse and prose poems, or even poems in the forms of plays, all of which make use of what could most simply be termed an overriding sense of “synesthesia.” Throughout the collection, Kyung Ju mixes up sensorial language, whether that which we use to describe our bodies, or the world around us. What results is a fascinating defamiliarization and confusion of the way we use language to describe our lives, what we feel and experience, in a fever-dreamlike onslaught of vivid, visceral images.

Not simply interesting for their absurdity, these moments of confusion are also so well-rendered that they still feel somehow realistic and tangible. Jake Levine’s skillful translation of the collection must have been monstrously difficult, as it’s bursting at the seams with wordplay, assonance, consonance, and rhyme, with sumptuous, gorgeous language as fascinating for its absurdity as for its clarity. On top of the sensory confusion, Kyung Ju also weaves in a mix-up of the way we describe various forms of art: tactile or olfactory words for music, auditory words for painting, and so on.


For the rest of the review, go here.


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