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A Cruelty Special to Our Species: Poems

4.43  ·  Rating details ·  58 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
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 Japanese-occupied territo
ebook, 80 pages
Published September 18th 2018 by Ecco
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Clemlucian (🏳️‍🌈the brooding witch)

I’m disappointed. The beginning is good because I wasn’t used to the format or the theme but all the poems say the same thing: Korean women have been through hell.

The poems are shocking and horrible but well written although sometimes I got lost in one but it’s redondant.

I've long known Yoon's work via the poetry salons of New York City as well as via her role as poetry editor for the Asian American Writers Workshop's literary magazine The Margins, so I was eager to finally read this.

I've read countless debut poetry collections over the past decade or so with a more-or-less critical eye, and this is one of the strongest debut collections I can remember -- consistently readable, clear, and compelling. You don't have to be steeped in the world of contemporary vers
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It's been years since I was consistently reading poetry, but I am trying to get back into it. I was a little bit hesitant about accepting A Cruelty Special to Our Species for review, but I am so glad that I did. Emily Jungmin Yoon's collection is heartbreaking and thought-provoking. She pours her heart into these poems, and I loved the honesty.

A lot of these poems cover Korean history, and many of them are about "comfort women", who were trafficked for sex work during WWII. So, trigger warning
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Our Q&A for the Poetry Foundation:

The poet Emily Jungmin Yoon believes that art reminds us that “dissent can manifest itself in beautiful and complex forms.” Born in Busan, the second-largest city in South Korea, Yoon recently published her debut collection, A Cruelty Special to Our Species (2018). The book focuses on the history of so-called comfort women from Korea and elsewhere in Southeast Asia whom Japanese soldiers detained and forced into sexua
Sep 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poc-poets, poetry, race
An arresting and moving collection about Korean "comfort women" during WWII that is so well-thought-out and put together, in terms of taking hold of a narrative that hasn't been widely shared (and the importance of that, given the surviving comfort women are in their 90s). And beautifully written, of course.
Oct 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
there were several times i wanted to just...close this book, put it out of my mind, forget i ever read it, because it was just too much. the sorrow, the unresolved grief. speaking of grief here are some lines from one of my favorites:

Colonial-era Japanese historians were sure
the white pottery and clothes of Korea show perpetual
sorrow. Poverty of color, incapacity for pleasure--countless foreign invasions turned the people blank
and hollow, cursed to eternal mourning.

i'm convinced that poetry is m
Katya Kazbek
I’ve been dying to read about the tragic history of “comfort women” since I, an immigrant to the US, and not that well-versed on East Asian history, first heard about them on the radio. And this poetry book with an absolutely incomparable name became the unlikely but satisfying read on the subject. I am definitely going to read some non-fiction about “comfort women” later (perhaps the fascinating oral history mentioned in this book’s acknowledgements) but meanwhile I just want to reread “A Cruel ...more
Jeffrey Parker
Sep 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A compelling and powerful collection that centers around the personal history Comfort Women and the continuing impact over generations. But the story is not that simple. These poems show echoes of that impact in the way a young women navigates through the world. These poems show how cheap, trivial, and disgusting a behavior can been when set against the images of this history.

Beyond the subject matter and it’s impact, my feelings about the poetry itself are more complicated but largely positive.
Oct 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: prime
An arresting collection that draws attention to individual experiences of Korean women from a not-long-gone past, whose history has been forgotten by contemporary desire to forget humanity’s most inhumane actions. What emerges is a searing and mystifyingly lyrical investigation of Japanese and American acts of colonization and violence against Korean women. Yoon delves deeply into this history while at the same time never letting the reader forget that these stories, though removed, are not irre ...more
Kristine Mar
Sep 19, 2018 rated it liked it
🇰🇷🇰🇵🇯🇵🎎🇺🇸🙍🏻♀👵🏻💣👨🏻✈ ...more
Nov 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Pure. Fire. Read it.
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

You think you know how cruel humans can be...

and then you hear stories that are bravely, unflinchingly, uncompromisingly told

like this
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Goodreads Librari...: Please add cover 3 14 Sep 18, 2018 10:22PM  
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’ ...more