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Booklist: Poetry in English

A work-in-progress listing of poems in English by writers of Korean heritage. Titles are sorted in date of publication in English translation, most recent first.

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Some Are Always Hungry
Jihyun Yun
University of Nebraska Press, 2020

From the publisher’s website: Winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry, Some Are Always Hungry chronicles a family’s wartime survival, immigration, and heirloom trauma through the lens of food, or the lack thereof. Through the vehicle of recipe, butchery, and dinner table poems, the collection negotiates the myriad ways diasporic communities comfort and name themselves […] (Link to online store)

DMZ Colony
Don Mee Choi
Wave Books, 2020

From the publisher’s website: Winner of the National Book Award Woven from poems, prose, photographs, and drawings, Don Mee Choi’s DMZ Colony is a tour de force of personal and political reckoning set over eight acts. Evincing the power of translation as a poetic device to navigate historical and linguistic borders, it explores Edward Said’s notion of “the intertwined […] (Link to online store)

A Cruelty Special to Our Species
Emily Jungmin Yoon
Ecco Books, 2019

From the publisher’s website: A piercing debut collection of poems exploring gender, race, and violence from a sensational new talent In her arresting collection, urgently relevant for our times, poet Emily Jungmin Yoon confronts the histories of sexual violence against women, focusing in particular on Korean so-called “comfort women,” women who were forced into sexual labor in […] (Link to online store)

Zainichi Literature
Ed John Lie tr Abbie (Miyabi) Yamamoto, Christina Yi, Haeng-ja Chung, Nathaniel Heneghan, Nayoung Aimee Kwon, Samuel Perry, Youngmi Lim
Univ of California Berkeley Institute of East Asian Studies, 2018

From the publisher’s website: This collection of translated works highlights a selection of writings in translation by Zainichi (diasporic Koreans in Japan). The introduction provides an historical overview of Zainichi diasporic identity; the concluding appendix considers the figure of Kin Kakuei and the flourishing Zainichi literature in the 1960s. Authors whose works are translated and […] (Link to online store)

Not My White Savior: A Memoir in Poems
Julayne Lee
Rare Bird Books, 2018

A provocative and furious book about race, culture, identity and what it means to be an inter-country adoptee in America Julayne Lee was born in South Korea to a mother she never knew. When she was an infant, she was adopted by a white Christian family in Minnesota, where she was sent to grow up. Not […] (Link to online store)

A Lesser Love
Koh Eunji (E.J.)
LSU Press, 2017

From the publisher’s website: A Lesser Love presents poems of love and departure for romantic partners, family members, and even national citizens. Raised around diasporic Korean communities, E. J. Koh describes her work as deeply influenced by the idea of jeong, which can be translated as a deep attachment, bond, and reciprocity for places, people, and […] (Link to online store)

Ordinary Misfortunes
Emily Jungmin Yoon
Tupelo Press, 2017

From the publisher’s website: Korea continues to grapple with the shared memory of its Japanese and US occupations. The poems in Ordinary Misfortunes incorporate actual testimony about cruelty against vulnerable bodies—including the wianbu, euphemistically known as “comfort women”—as the poet seeks to find places where brutality is overcome through true human connections. (Link to online store)

Hardly War
Don Mee Choi
Wave Books, 2016

From the publisher’s website: Hardly War, Don Mee Choi’s major second collection, defies history, national identity, and militarism. Using artifacts from Choi’s father, a professional photographer during the Korean and Vietnam wars, she combines memoir, image, and opera to explore her paternal relationship and heritage. Here poetry and geopolitics are inseparable twin sisters, conjoined to […] (Link to online store)

An Empty House: Korean-American Poetry
Ed Yearn Hong Choi
Homa + Sekey, 2008

From the publisher’s website: A sequel to Fragrance of Poetry, a much acclaimed poetry collection, An Empty House contains ninety-four poems by twelve Korean-American poets. It is a work that represents significant thought, effort, and collaboration. Poems in this volume show the breadth and depth of Korean-American poets’ homesickness, grief, pain, and joy of life […] (Link to online store)

Fragrance of Poetry: Korean-American Literature
Ed Yearn Hong Choi
Homa + Sekey, 2005

From the publisher’s website: Fragrance of Poetry contains seventy-five poems by fifteen Korean-American poets. These poets are all first-generation immigrants from Korea whose primary language is Korean. Naturally, the poems in this book show the Korean immigrants’ solitude, nostalgia, pathos, anger, laughter, and love. They are cross-cultural communications from Korea to America, with the themes […] (Link to online store)

Surfacing Sadness: A Centennial of Korean-American Literature 1903-2003
Ed Yearn Hong Choi, Haeng Ja Kim
Homa + Sekey, 2003

This book is published to commemorate the centennial of the first landing of Korean immigrants in America in 1903. An anthology of poems, essays and short stories by thirty-seven Korean-American writers, Surfacing Sadness is the first serious effort to bring together the Korean-American literary experiences to join mainstream American literature. The book primarily contains translations […] (Link to online store)