Literature 2-18-2008

What Light: This Week’s Poem: Sun Yung Shin

Read "Riot Police" by veteran What Light winning poet Sun Yung Shin. This week's poem was selected by Sarah Fox.



This is you—Titanus giganteus, your maw snapping pencils in half and cutting through
human flesh. My encyclopedia chokes on your bulk. My camera, timid, afraid to look, as
if you’re naked—not one adult male, but millions.

Few garments sound as fine as flak jacket, the best of the tagmata the thorax, more prime
than brains as the body can keep mating, cracking its margins. Your shield like a wing,
protects your bulletproof heart from the wind, yourright arm black in the cloth of your
brothers. Full face visor. Baby gladiator.

Beyond the screen, I memorize you—jawbone like a scandal reflecting all the thieves and
beggars. Insect lord, insect mind. This is my fear. You look like my brother, my son. You
could kill me with your looks.


I believe in the revolutionary and revelatory possibilities of poetry.


Sun Yung Shin is the author the poetry collection Skirt Full of Black (Coffee House Press); co-editor of Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption (South End Press); and author of Cooper’s Lesson (Children’s Book Press), a bilingual (Korean/English) illustrated book for children. She is a 2007 Bush Artist Fellow for Literature and has received grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Jerome Foundation. Shin teaches at the Perpich Center for Arts Education.

Shin is currently working on a prose poem auto-ethnography (aka memoir) titled HARNESS; plus a three-book cycle of poems corresponding to the three waves of Korean immigration (1903, 1950-1953, and 1965).