Beautiful and Useless
Author: Kim Min Jeong
Translators: Soon See and Jake Levine
Publisher: Black Ocean (2020)
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. This skillful translation from Soeun Seo and Jake Levine, brings the full playfulness and intelligence of Kim’s lyricism to English-language readers.