The World's Lightest Motorcycle
Author: Yi Won
Translators: Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello and E.J. Koh
Publisher: Zephyr Press (2021)
A successor to Korean feminist poets like Kim Hyesoon, Yi Won frequently writes about the perilousness of maintaining one’s human identity in a high-tech, digital environment. In this debut book in English, her poems range from avant-garde prose poems to more lyrical, if dark, free verse, as she examines isolation, death, and the passage of time—and in the process, upends polite society and Korean literary culture.
“Yi Won and her translators show that a poem can be a space where readers might imagine that another world is possible; where correspondence and contradiction easily coexist, and no one insists otherwise; where one can play out dreams without turning them into dogma.”
"Yi Won is one of the most fascinating and exciting poets to emerge after the oppressive decades of South Korea’s military dictatorship. Her renowned and influential predecessor, Kim Hyesoon, notes that 'young Korean women poets are developing a terrain of poetry that is combative, visceral, subversive, inventive, and ontologically feminine.' Yi Won’s highly inventive poetry creates a new surreal terrain in which bodies and everyday objects, capitalist commodities, exist side by side and interact, often violently. E. J. Koh and Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello, two brilliant Korean American poets, have invented astonishing language for Yi Won’s subversive poetry."
–Don Mee Choi
"Yi Won’s The World’s Lightest Motorcycle arrives like a photon in E.J. Koh and Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello’s agile, radiant translation. With consummate lightness, Yi Won’s poetry reveals the double potential in everything—the radical intimacy of the seemingly distant, the radical newness of the close-to-hand. In Yi Won’s line of sight, the universe is truly expanding; not just the elevator, but the floor itself is rising, heaven and earth change places, the inkdrop gleams like a cat’s eye. Jump up, jump on, jump in!"