Stay tuned all month for poet interviews in honor of National Poetry Month.
1) Why poetry?
Because poetry brings people together (it is often brief, intense, and aural/oral), it is ancient, and alive. It makes difficulty beautiful.
2) Do you feel like poetry is more or less important & relevant today?
I feel it is more important today as there is more and more speech that tries to simplify the complex and also to violently erase the vulnerable and marginalized.
3) Tell us about one poet who has greatly influenced you as a writer and a thinker.
Mark Nowak, a labor poet, has influenced me greatly by introducing me to and teaching about avant-garde poetics and a Marxist lens for literature.
4) Tell us about one lesser-known contemporary poet who you’d like more people to know about.
Bettina Judd! I don’t know that she’s necessarily lesser known, and definitely not lesser known than me! but I didn’t know about her work until Gabrielle pointed me to it and Patient is amazing.
5) Share with us one of your recent poems and tell us a little bit about its context.
I have always wanted to write something about my Korean passport and incorporate an image of it into the poem, so this was the result. It is made up of found text entirely, which I don’t usually do, but I found the language in the two sources utterly haunting, and they seemed like magic to come together around themes of paternity, monstrosity, inheritance, erasure, violence, etc.
신 선 영 Sun Yung Shin was born in Seoul, Korea, during 박 정 희 Park Chung-hee’s military dictatorship, and grew up in the Chicago area during the Daley/Washington/Daley political era. She is the editor of A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota, the author of poetry/essay collections Unbearable Splendor (winner of the 2016 Minnesota Book Award for poetry); Rough, and Savage; and Skirt Full of Black (winner of the 2007 Asian American Literary Award for poetry), a co-editor of Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption, and the author of bilingual illustrated book for children Cooper’s Lesson. She lives in Minneapolis.