For The Love Of Poetry: Black Ocean / Moon Country

Black Ocean is an award-winning independent publisher based out of Boston, with satellites in Detroit and Chicago. From early silent films to early punk rock, Black Ocean brings together a spectrum of influences to produce books of exceptional quality and content. Black Ocean believes in the fissures art can create in consciousness when, even if just for a moment, we experience a more vital way of operating in the world—and through that moment then seek out more extreme and enlightened modes of existence. Black Ocean is committed to promoting artists they firmly believe in by sharing their enthusiasm for their work with a global audience.

The Moon Country Korean Poetry Series publishes new English translations of contemporary Korean poetry by both mid-career and up-and-coming poets who debuted after the IMF crisis. By introducing work which comes out of our shared milieu, this series not only aims to widen the field of contemporary Korean poetry available in English translation, but also to challenge orientalist, neo-colonial, and national literature discourses. Black Ocean's hope is that readers will inhabit these books as bodies of experience rather than view them as objects of knowledge, that they will allow themselves to be altered by them, and emerge from the page with eyes that seem to see “a world that belongs to another star.”

Whale And Vapor by Kim Kyung Ju
Translated by Jake Levine

The poems in Whale and Vapor emphasize exhaustion--physically, mentally, and as an existential condition. Kim Kyung Ju playfully turns toward the lyric in this work as a way to reconcile himself with the contemporary world by engaging in dialogue with his Korean literary ancestry. Masterfully translated by Jake Levine in close conversation with the author, this collection by one of the most popular and critically acclaimed poets to come out in South Korea in the new millennium explores the cold tunnels of today's tired, dark times.

Beautiful And Useless by Kim Min Jeong
Translated by Soeun Seo and Jake Levine

In Beautiful and Useless, Kim Min Jeong exposes the often funny and contradictory rifts that appear in the language of everyday circumstance. She uses slang, puns, cultural referents, and 'naughty, unwomanly" language in order to challenge readers to expand their ideas of not only what a poem is, but also how women should speak. In this way Kim undermines patriarchal authority by displaying the absurd nature of gender expectations. But even larger than issues of gender, these poems reveal the illogical systems of power behind the apparent structures that govern the logic of everyday life. By making the source of these antagonisms and gender transgressions visible, they make them less powerful.

Pillar Of Books by Moon Bo Young
Translated by Hedgie Choi

This debut collection in English from Korean poet Moon Bo Young insists that you, as a reader, put down your expectations of what should be important or serious. While these poems are about god, death, love, and literature, they are also just as much about a hat with a herd of cows on it, science experiments on monkeys' attention, the eating of cherry tomatoes, weeping carrots, and pimple popping. The surrealism and humor in these poems allow them to travel so far in the span of a stanza. Reading this book is like going on a picnic with your weirdest best friend and asking them what-if questions until the sun goes down-there's room for everything, from dark anecdotes to funny quips and surprising vulnerability. This book is like that: there's room for everything.

Cold Candies by Lee Young-ju
Translated by Jae Kim

Cold Candies encapsulate the saccharine strangeness of a woman's life. Fragments of narratives about girls, dolls, sisters, mothers, men, lizards, the moon, and pillows are brought together into otherworldly images that are devastating, yet familiar. These prose poems are often self-portraits, and together, they are as much an account of her life as it is an attempt to understand it. Pulling out threads from her past, she examines its traumas and tragedies and unravels a haunting dreamscape of intimacy and kinship.

Grotesque Weather And Good People by Solah Lim
Translated by Olan Munson and Oh Eunkyung

By turns humorous and dark, these poems explore the simultaneous intimacy and alienation of everyday life in urban Seoul. Writing in a simple vernacular, Lim Solah’s lyric I struggles with the poet’s call to “wonder” in a world lurking with quiet dissonance and horror. While BTS light up the charts and Korean films gather international awards, Lim's poems paint a strange and disorienting map of the consciousness of the so-called "spec" generation that calls their country Hell Chosun. This is a voice on fire from a world on fire. Readers from Seoul to Seattle to Slovenia to Singapore will find it familiar. Since that world is also the one in which we all live.