A ground-breaking new collection of queer poetry from a leading contemporary Korean poet.
Listen to an interview with translators Suhyun J. Ahn and Archana Madhavan by Jennifer Lee at the New Books Network!
Kim Hyun’s Glory Hole is the first Korean queer poetry collection. Featuring gay teens, elders, cats, caterpillars, robots, and other unexpected characters, Kim’s fifty-one eccentric poems trace themes of love, sexual desire, abandonment, destitution, and death. In recounting the splendid yet tragic journeys of his speakers, Kim defies meaningful sense-making. His poems are a mishmash of dystopian sci-fi and pornography, storytelling and poetry, fictive references, and real figures. They are not embellished with elegant imagery; in fact, they are antithetical to it, opting instead for incoherent tense, unidiomatic expressions, and never-ending puns. After all, like LGBTQ+ people in many cultures, Korean queers live in this site of violence. Bewilderment, deliberately, is Kim Hyun’s form. Glory Hole invites readers into a very queer world.
‘Ultimately, the poems are paeans to a lived and visceral queerness that fluidly transcends hollow aesthetics of sterile craft and attempts to embody life in all of its glory. These songs celebrate both queer rights and queer wrongs, the beauty and the madness, the mess that undergirds everything. Glory Hole is frequently cryptic and impenetrable. It can be a chore to read and decipher. But Kim Hyun does not strive for comprehension and clarity. He privileges subtextual disorientation, a generative bewilderment.’—Areeb Ahmad, Asymptote. Read the extensive review here.
‘Kim Hyun’s Glory Hole lets loose a dizzying mixtape of metatextual references across a series of sometimes interrelated, heavily footnoted prose poems.’—Layla Benitez-James, Poetry Foundation
‘Glory Hole is a vibrantly colorful collection that transcribes (and translates) the strangeness of the world and the queer experience into words. Each poem seems to exist in a world that could be: a window into the inhabitants of these strange worlds and possibilities. . . . [It] presents queerness as natural, strange, assumed, outlandish, which is a secondary concern to the reader’s primary objective of orienting themselves to each new piece.’—Helena Goos, International Examiner
‘The point and the goal of the pieces that make up Glory Hole is to invite the impenetrable and the subversive into the light.’—Dontaná McPherson-Joseph, Foreword Reviews
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