Poetry Reading w/ Emily Jungmin Yoon, Nomi Stone, & Raena Shirali

Join us for a poetry reading with Emily Jungmin Yoon, Nomi Stone, and Raena Shirali!

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 Japanese-occupied territories during World War II.

In wrenching language, A Cruelty Special to Our Species unforgettably describes the brutalities of war and the fear and sorrow of those whose lives and bodies were swept up by a colonizing power, bringing powerful voice to an oppressed group of people whose histories have often been erased and overlooked. “What is a body in a stolen country,” Yoon asks. “What is right in war.”

Moving readers through time, space, and different cultures, and bringing vivid life to the testimonies and confessions of the victims,Yoon takes possession of a painful and shameful history even while unearthing moments of rare beauty in acts of resistance and resilience, and in the instinct to survive and bear witness.

Praise for A Cruelty Special to Our Species

“With searing witness and quietly prodigious song here is a volume that speaks sharp truths to those who would wish the forgetting of one of the darkest hours of humanity. A lovely, moving, and ultimately devastating book.” (Chang-rae Lee)

“Emily Jungmin Yoon finds language to convey its horror and violence—painfully and unsparingly, but somehow also with a delicacy, precision, and attention that does not impose the true (literal) brutality on the reader, which makes these poems all the more shocking and unforgettable.” (Amy Tan)

“Emily Jungmin Yoon’s...un-erring lyrical sense, evident in all her poems, including these meditations on slavery and rape, allow her to transcend the limits of language itself. From her refusal of dismissive epiphany to the profound linguistic insights that underscore these rare searching poems, beauty occurs.” (Carol Muske-Dukes)

“[A] deeply reverent debut collection. . . [Yoon] writes these poems in her second language, an English in which she takes mindful, absorbing residence while her ‘native tongue is a code’ that orchestrates with brimming precision what can be imagined, mourned, remembered, invented and haunted.” (Eleanor Chai)

“The poems...are miracles of clarity and precision that are all the more miraculous because their strength, piercing lyricism, and transparent humanity never quaver or falter or step back for a second.” (Vijay Seshadri)

Emily Jungmin Yoon is the author of A Cruelty Special to Our Species (Ecco Books, September 2018) and Ordinary Misfortunes (Tupelo Press, July 2017), winner of the Sunken Garden Chapbook Prize. Her poems and translations have appeared in The New Yorker, New York Times Magazine, Poetry, and elsewhere. She has received awards and fellowships from the Poetry Foundation, Ploughshares’ Emerging Writer’s Contest, AWP’s WC&C Scholarship Competition, The Home School in Miami, the Aspen Institute, New York University, the University of Chicago, Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, and Sarah Lawrence College Summer Seminar for Writers. She is the Poetry Editor for The Margins, the literary magazine of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, and a PhD student in Korean literature at the University of Chicago.

Nomi Stone’s second collection of poems, Kill Class is forthcoming from Tupelo Press in 2019. Winner of a 2018 Pushcart Prize, Stone’s poems appear recently or will soon in POETRYAmerican Poetry Review, The New Republic, The Academy of American Poets’ “Poem-a-Day” series, Bettering American Poetry 2017The Best American Poetry 2016, Tin HouseNew England Review, and elsewhere. Kill Class is based on two years of fieldwork she conducted within war trainings in mock Middle Eastern villages erected by the US military across America. Stone teaches at Princeton University and has an MFA in Poetry from Warren Wilson College.

Raena Shirali is a poet, editor, and educator from Charleston, South Carolina. Author of GILT (YesYes Books, 2017), Shirali recently received a VIDA scholarship for Sundress Academy for the Arts’ Residency and the 2018 Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award. Her other honors include a Pushcart Prize, the Philip Roth Residency at Bucknell University’s Stadler Center for Poetry, and the Gulf Coast Poetry Prize. She lives in Philadelphia, where she recently co-organized We (Too) Are Philly, a summer poetry festival highlighting voices of color. She is also a Poetry Editor for Muzzle Magazine and Poetry Reader for Vinyl.

Event date: 
Friday, September 21, 2018 - 6:00pm
Event address: 
Penn Book Center
130 S. 34th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104
A Cruelty Special to Our Species: Poems Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062843685
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Published: Ecco - September 18th, 2018

Ordinary Misfortunes Cover Image
ISBN: 9781946482068
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Published: Tupelo Press - July 1st, 2017

Stranger's Notebook: Poems Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780810125100
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Published: Triquarterly - October 28th, 2008

Gilt Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781936919413
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Published: Yesyes Books - March 15th, 2017