Commons / Edition 1

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"The poems in Commons are at once global and intensely personal and emotional. An immensely talented poet, Myung Mi Kim loves language - its internal rhymes, alliterations, and diverse rhythms. Caught off guard by the beauty and precision of Kim's language and the exquisite images she so deftly conjures, we are drawn unwittingly into a web of fragmentary memories that subvert what we think we know about the violent history that haunts her and never ceases to demand recognition."-Elaine Kim, author of Asian American Literature:An Introduction to the Writings and Their Social Context, and co-editor of Dangerous Women:Gender and Korean Nationalism

Author Biography:Myung Mi Kim is Professor of Creative Writing at San Francisco State University. Her three previous books of poetry are Under Flag, winner of the 1991 Multicultural Publishers Book Award, The Bounty (1996), and Dura (1998).

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Editorial Reviews

Memphis Commercial Appeal
Extracts the sparest of reactions and reflections to global politics, colonization, immigration and other issues in fragmented form that takes the blank page as a kind of force field for splinters of language and images. The result is gnomic, austere and obliquely intense.
Publishers Weekly
While much poetry has been written out of the many diasporas that have U.S. outposts, few collections capture the cultural and linguistic displacement of immigration with as much poise and resonance as Kim's fourth book, her most outstanding. The poems here are attentive to, as she writes in the concluding note, what "the polyglot, porous, transcultural presence alters and what is around it." Composed of a series of aphoristic phrases or individual words scattered across the page, the three longish poems in Commons explore the relations between languages, using Korean and English as paradigms, and finding lyric play between the two. (Kim was born in Korea and immigrated to the U.S. when she was a child; the poems often include Hangul and Romanized Korean.) In the poem "Lamenta," one section juxtaposes testimony about life during military turmoil from Kwangju and Sarajevo, while another section has two people speaking to each other, or not, in two different languages: "Unendurable, said one/ cho-goph-dah, said one." "Works" begins with a child telling a story of a mother's soup then mutates to address the devastating consequences of colonialism: "It burn skin to bone/ Scar tissue on top of nerve ending/ Ugly power of military/ I scream too hot too hot/ Naked where clothes were a second before." Articulating our often hidden and difficult ties to each other without righteous indignation or fanfare, these poems are profoundly important and affecting. (Mar.) Forecast: Kim (Under Flag) has taught for years at San Francisco State University and has been part of the loose-knit Bay Area avant-garde community, which includes Lyn Hejinian, Kevin Killian and Nathaniel Mackey. Kim's books are often assigned on campus, and this, her title first with a larger house, should garner review attention within the academy as well as the poetry community. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520231443
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 3/4/2002
  • Series: New California Poetry Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 111
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Myung Mi Kim is Professor of Creative Writing at San Francisco State University. Her three previous books of poetry are Under Flag, winner of the 1991 Multicultural Publishers Book Award, The Bounty (1996), and Dura (1998).
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Table of Contents

Pollen Fossil Record
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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2005

    very unique poetry

    I just finished the book, read it in one day. The poetry plays with spacing and line breaks a lot. It's different and keeps you thinking. Sometimes I found myself confused, or just lost. But if you get past that, the images are often vivid, and dream-like. And as if you are dreaming it, you see various scenes which don't connect until you have seen the whole dream. In all, I really enjoyed it.

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