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Emily Jungmin Yoon

Born: in Busan, South Korea
Connection to Illinois: Yoon is a PhD student studying Korean literature in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago and was the 2022-2023 Abigail Rebecca Cohen Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of Chicago.

Biography: EMILY JUNGMIN YOON is a poet, translator, editor, and scholar. She received her BA in English and Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, MFA in Creative Writing at New York University (where she served as an Award Editor for the Washington Square Review and received a Starworks Fellowship), and PhD in East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. She currently serves as the Poetry Editor for The Margins, the literary magazine of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. In fall 2023, she joined the Department of East Asian Languages & Literatures at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa as an Assistant Professor of Korean literature.

  • Ordinary Misfortunes Winner of the Sunken Garden Poetry Prize
  • A Cruelty to Our Species Winner of the 2019 Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award Finalist for the 2020 Kate Tufts Discovery Award

Primary Literary Genre(s): Poetry

Primary Audience(s): Adult readers


Selected Titles

A Cruelty Special to Our Species: Poems
ISBN: 0062843702 OCLC: 1016928075

Ecco 2019

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 territories during World War II.In wrenching language, A Cruelty Special to Our Species unforgettably describes the brutalities of war and the fear and sorrow of those whose lives and bodies were swept up by a colonizing power, bringing powerful voice to an oppressed group of people whose histories have often been erased and overlooked. “What is a body in a stolen country,” Yoon asks. “What is right in war.”Moving readers through time, space, and different cultures, and bringing vivid life to the testimonies and confessions of the victims, Yoon takes possession of a painful and shameful history even while unearthing moments of rare beauty in acts of resistance and resilience, and in the instinct to survive and bear witness.

Ordinary Misfortunes
ISBN: 1946482064 OCLC: 996403533

Tupelo Press 2017

Poetry. Korea continues to grapple with the shared memory of its Japanese and US occupations. The poems in ORDINARY MISFORTUNES incorporate actual testimony about cruelty against vulnerable bodies--including the wianbu, euphemistically known as "comfort women"--as the poet seeks to find places where brutality is overcome through true human connections. Emily Jungmin Yoon asks, Why do we write poems amid such violence? What can I, and what can poetry, do? Her response to those tough questions is a sequence of reverberating poems that blend documentary precision with impassioned witness, bringing to bear both scholarship and artistry.