ISBN-10: 156689638X
ISBN-13: 9781566896382
Publisher: Coffee House Press
Publish Date: 06/14/2022
Dimensions: 8.90" L, 5.83" W, 0.47" H

The Wet Hex


Price: $16.95


Sun Yung Shin calls her readers into the unknown now-future of the human species, an underworld museum of births, deaths, evolutions, and extinctions.

Personal and environmental violations form the backdrop against which Sun Yung Shin examines questions of grievability, violence, and responsibility in The Wet Hex. Incorporating sources such as her own archival immigration documents, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Christopher Columbus’s journals, and traditional Korean burial rituals, Shin explores the ways that lives are weighed and bartered. Smashing the hierarchies of god and humanity, heaven and hell, in favor of indigenous Korean shamanism and animism, The Wet Hex layers an apocalyptic revision of nineteenth-century imagery of the sublime over the present, conjuring a reality at once beautiful and terrible.

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Winner of the 2023 Midland Authors Award for Poetry
Finalist for the 2023 Minnesota Book Award for Poetry

"Revelatory. . . . Formally inventive. . . . These poems also project us into the future, using the past as a resource to create materials for survival." –Elizabeth Hoover, Star Tribune

"Enthralling and fantastical. . . . [Shin] begs us to consider what equality looks like for all living things and how that might include the dead, engaging the spiritual, the mythical, and the animal world. While reaching into a variety of realms, from shamanism and funerary rites to the climate crisis and the inheritance of language, Shin's writing is tight and seamless." –Katya Buresh, BOMB Magazine

"There are many marvels to unpack in The Wet Hex. . . . Shin's lines glimmer and pop as they scrutinize the passage of time and the importance of legacy." –Diego Báez, Poetry Foundation

"The Wet Hex, born out of the frugal feline year of Korean myths, modernizes and bewitches us with her transfixed vertical, etymological discourse on everything beguiling: fate, moth, white, shaman, casket, box, moon, flower, death. 'Grief is a heated iron comb, ' which Sun Yung Shin uses to biblically curl your pelagic feline form into gaze, debt, heritage, and threshold. Sun Yung Shin is an enchantress. Sun Yung Shin is oil, resin, feather. Sun Yung Shin is a lexical, chthonic tiger, enraptured specimen of poetic inheritance, roaring from her Minnesota wilderness into the uninhabited, forgiving, concerted retelling of Baridegi's heroism. Her spellbound language takes us through the hypnotic collaborative corridor between her sequential text and Jinny Yu drawings and profoundly translates its gender muteness into 'bark, seed, root, horn, organ, petal, oil, tea, tincture, ' obedient materials of healing and transformation. The Wet Hex opens like a mountain, closes its glory with 'eros of self-sufficiency, ' and is capable of turning the barren woman in you into a virgin or two stones." –Vi Khi Nao

"The Wet Hex is a worthy monument to this Holocene Epoch. Using images, allusions, and truths that are mystical, metaphorical, empirical, and personal, Sun Yung Shin prevails here as a daughter, and as a mother; these poems transcend our earthly realm like shadow children. Shin is a writer of profound skill and authentic presence. The Wet Hex is canorous, masterful, and utterly unique. It builds on her stellar body of work to advance what's possible in poetry and art." –Michael Kleber-Diggs

"Drop everything! Sun Yung Shin's new book has arrived: a rich biomythography, a feminist epic, a pilgrimage to the underworld. With tigers, wolves, lost ancestors, and sky, she stages encounters with death, afterbirth and afterlife, haunting/hunting. Who is the animal? What does the orphan dream? How does an abandoned princess raise the dead? Read these poems to find out. Here spells are cast. The hex drips wet. The castaways come home." –Gabrielle Civil

"The Wet Hex is a brilliant achievement seeking liberation for girls, women, orphans, and castaways. The poems interrogate violence in a haunting, gorgeous spell of lyric alchemy that only Sun Yung Shin can create. Shin 'let[s] the wolves out of [her] mouth' and charts a map for 'the fallen, the wandering, the abandoned.' Once again, she proves that she is a poet ahead of the curve, an intellectual and innovative wonder. This is one of my favorite poets. This is the most powerful book of poems I've read in years." –Lee Herrick

Praise for Unbearable Splendor:

Winner of the 2017 Minnesota Book Award for Poetry
Finalist for the 2017 PEN America Poetry Award

"The splendor on display in Shin's book consists of an incredibly compact use of commanding and vibrant language, which coheres into work that feels restless and deft, as cerebral as it is emotional." –Los Angeles Review of Books

"Like a lean, mean, efficient literary machine, Sun Yung Shin's Unbearable Splendor uses its hybrid nature to arrive on bookshelves as something very true, heartbreaking, and, ultimately, unbearably human." –Chicago Review of Books

"One of the primary concerns of this book is the self; paradoxically, Sun Yung Shin is able to explore this theme with both a microscope and a telescope, and the result is a heady, multidimensional and multi-textured read." –The Corresponder

"It is a blessing that Sun Yung Shin has written a great deal of sound into Unbearable Splendor, because we have not heard or seen or read anything like this before, a truly unique, essential, and original collection." –NewPages

"These constant reminders of surreal wonderment do their work like little ice picks, chipping away at the grand event of colonized hurt. The results are small, perceptible feelings you could almost hold in your hand." –Waxwing

"As a book, Unbearable Splendor works on multiple levels. On perhaps its most obvious, superficial level, it's a text full of beautiful, haunting, lyrical language and interconnected themes that wind in and out of each other to weave a coherent fabric of many strands. Under that surface, though, lives a veritable dissertation (with plenty of angles that the reader can research) on otherness and transgression, and in turn, on how what or who that is other, or what or who that transgresses, problematizes the existence of the one who observes." –Drunken Boat

"In poems traversing that canny valley between verse and prose, Shin draws on cinema, technology, mythology, sci fi, autobiography and folklore to unlock the titular emotion: the unbearableness of the labyrinth, the splendor of being a machine–a hybrid, a replicant, an orphan." –The Rumpus

"From this investigation of cloning, cyborgs, surrogacy, and adoption, Shin weaves a narrative of language and history that represents a striking new way of understanding identity." –Lantern Review

"In a striking interweaving of poetry and essay, etymologies brush up against adoption certificates, and quotations jostle with myths. . . . Shin's resistance to offering a definitive answer allows her to make connections that are sometimes dizzying, often lyrical, and always thought provoking." –The Missing Slate

"Sun Yung Shin's explorations are honest and unrestrained and show an enormous amount of skill. In spite of the gravity of the issues at hand, Unbearable Splendor comes from a writer at play, and she never lets us forget how much pleasure there is to be found in language." –Front Porch Journal

"[Unbearable Splendor] is a project of reclamation of one's own humanity." –Jacket2

"While unabashedly scholarly, Unbearable Splendor is heartbreaking." –Star Tribune

"Shin's poetry is as cerebral as it is beautiful, exploring the personal experiences of race, immigration, and gender alongside academic investigations of religion and science, philosophy and art." –Bustle

"In Sun Yung Shin's gifted hands, cyborgs become the mechanism by which to examine the self, humanity, and the individual's place in an automated world." –Signature

"At once sensual, philosophical, mind-bending in its juxtapositions, Shin's exploration of what we take for granted–bodies, labels, time, and what it means to be human–crosses many intellectual landscapes at once. . . . Unbearable Splendor is a liminal book, but one that invites the reader to cross all its boundaries." International Examiner

"Unlike your more 'vanilla' essay collections, this work uses poetic building blocks to slowly reveal the existentialist heart, a very impressive result as the personal connection is palpable." Messenger's Booker

"I've long thought that Sun Yung Shin is writing some of the most powerful poetry around." –Eileen Verbs Books

"To graph the immigrant, the exile and 'pseudo-exile, ' as 'a kind of star.' To perform childhood. 'Descent upon descent.' To write on '[p]aper soaked in milk.' Unbearable Splendor is a book like this, that is this: the opposite or near-far of home. What is the difference between a guest and a ghost? What will you feed them in turn? I was profoundly moved by the questions and deep bits of feeling in this gorgeous, sensing work, and am honored to write in support of its extraordinary and brilliant writer, Sun Yung Shin." –Bhanu Kapil

"In Unbearable Splendor, Sun Yung Shin sticks a pin directly into the heart of who we are to reveal that a person is a mystery without beginning or end, borders or documents, complicated by robotics and astrophysics, arrivals and departures, myth and rewriting. A person is divided into multiple, complicated selves, as various and complex as the forms and approaches she employs in these poetic essays. To read Shin's work is to marvel at a rosebud's concealed and silent core and to slowly witness its elegant blooming. It is a delicate and majestic show." –Jenny Boully

"Unbearable Splendor is a dazzling collage of biophysical metamorphoses, wherein the 'I' atomizes into multiple and self-replicating new mythologies of what constitutes an authentic being. 'I didn't know I wasn't human. My past was invented, implanted, and accepted. I'm more real than you are because I know I'm not real.' In our vast expanse, where 'every species is transitional, ' Shin's lyricism, erudition, and tonal command of loss and indignation harmonize into a singular nucleus that hums and pulsates through each of these wondrous poetic meditations." –Ed Bok Lee

"Into the fertile and ever-growing landscape of essay-poem hybrids comes Sun Yung Shin's striking exploration of identity, imitation, and home. From the uncanny valley to the minotaur's labyrinth, Shin brings an unflagging intelligence and tremendous formal dexterity to bear on what makes us human and what makes us monstrous–we so often fall somewhere in between." –Mairead Small Staid, Literati Bookstore

"In examining her own search of identity, Shin masterfully uses the likes of Antigone, Korean history, cyborgs, black holes, clones to bridge this 'Uncanny Valley.' This is brilliantly done and is often as mind-bending as it is heart-wrenching." –Unabridged Bookstore

"Like a dream intent on processing one's daily struggles in the most abstract of ways, Unbearable Splendor kneads and stretches the boundaries between fiction and nonfiction, realism and SF, with the experience of a Korean orphan-turned-American immigrant being central to the experiment." –Strange Horizons

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ISBN-10: 156689638X
ISBN-13: 9781566896382
Publisher: Coffee House Press
Publish Date: 06/14/2022
Dimensions: 8.90" L, 5.83" W, 0.47" H
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