I caught the final reading for the 2014 McKnight Artist Fellowship for Writers recipients early in September, as this year’s fellows – Susanne Aspley, Susan Power, Shannon Gibney and Josh Ostergaard for creative prose and Kelly Barnhill for children’s literature – have begun to hold readings as fellows as part of the Loft’s McKnight series.
Two facts stood out to me about the 2014 fellows: they – Carolyn Williams-Noren, Danez Smith, Sierra DeMulder, and Sun Yung Shin – were all poets, and they all were marginalized voices, if not in terms of gender, then by race or sexual orientation or multiple intersections.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Shin.
Some background about her work: Shin’s pieces takes the forms of lists and entries, poetry that is formal to the point of being disorienting. I first prepared by reading her poetry to see what the written word captures that the spoken word could not. I found poems shaped to resemble dictionary entries or other factual things, poems with shapes a reader could feel. Brackets, columns, dashes or dashes mark off the unusual space these poems occupy, spaces with unusual rules. Some cultural references, like workings of the Korean writing system, are explained. Others are not.