"Quanta...like spit in the dust of a baseball field" - Cody

April 09, 2003

Myung Mi Kim

Note: This entry is the first in a series about contemporary poets whose work I find inspirational.

She's one of my favorite poets. Unfortunately she left SFSU before I had a chance to study with her. I heard that she's in Buffalo, New York now.

What I appreciate most about reading her poetry is the liberated feeling it gives me. Her words operate in a world where sense and reason are as fallible and transitory as the sound and meaning of any word. It is okay for poetry to be difficult and for poems to resist communicating "the point."

A word on the mechanics of Myung Mi Kim's poetry: Sound and repetition are very important, as are disruptions in narrative. The forms she creates reflect this. Each line runs on the page independently; there are few connections from line to line that are not created by the reader. One critic described her book of poems, The Bounty, as tesserae, which are the small squares of stone or glass that make up a mosaic. Myung Mi Kim's poetry allows the reader to examine each tile for its beauty and delicacy, while the pattern as a whole, i.e. the complete picture, is absorbed more intuitively.

These lines comes from a poem called And Sing We, which is the first poem in her first book Under Flag:

Depletion replete with barraging
Slurred and taken over
All the fields fallow
The slide carousel's near burn-out and yet
Flash and one more picture of how we were to be
If we live against replication
Our scripts stricken
Black ants on tar: ponderous pending change
Mostly, we cross bridges we did not see being built

Check out Myung Mi Kim's page at the electronic poetry center at SUNY Buffalo. While you're there, read the interview "Generosity as Method" and her poem "Into Such Assembly." She raise some interesting questions, such as "Can you really effect change if the culture in which you're operating can't even begin to recognize the fact that your unrecognizability is making a contribution?" This resonates for me because I feel much of my poetry is "unrecognizable," i.e. that it resists the mechanism by which we arrive at meaning.

Art and Culture Network has a great article on Myung Mi Kim. It can describe her poetry and poetics much better than I can.

I found a difficult essay/talk by the poet. You can't really get more meta than Myung Mi Kim, so it is fitting that she begins with a statement about her statement, which is about "anacrusis: the one or more syllables at the beginning of a line of poetry that are regarded as preliminary to and not a part of the metrical pattern."

Posted by cbsisco at April 9, 2003 08:11 PM