She peels away utter[ance],to arrive, somehow, placed. In her work, body and location are vulnerable, taken to the precipice where language is at once a tether and a new form of entering.
Kim’s poetry is grounded in the processes of language and silences: “Each sound trace, each demonstration of the line, each formal enunciation: aperture: conduit: coming into articulation, into the Imaginary – the lyric as it embodies the processural” (Commons, 111)
The last line of Kim’s Dura reads: “Experiment is each scroll of white pages joined together” (102). In other words, her experiment is the individual joined to the collective, is the space on the page, is – not the setting down, not the fixed fact – but that moment of potential, that moment of possibility.
And so, her work is full. Of space. Space between words and punctuation. Space between lines and stanzas. Page-long spaces. These I read as “aperture: conduit.”
She states without equivocation: “Conjunction used with abandon is lethargy of the idea.” (Dura, 96)
And so, silence. Space.
Over which I, reader, feel invited to leap and leap into. Read as more than, less than, equal to in the associative nonconjunction. Don’t read and/or/but/… simply—silence—the quiet between two words. How they float on the page and in the mind. Then, my mind becomes less than tranquil reaching towards some kind of impossible equilibrium.
This invitation to energized participation via a charged silence feels like a distinctly feminist strategy, and one I’ve not come across before in quite this way.
Instead of conjunction, there is counterpoint and juxtaposition. Instead of lethargy, fierce energy of gaps to hold. Kim’s eye/mouth/ear is always on devastation and trauma (cultural, societal personal), but these cannot be explained, they cannot be conjoined without warp. Process is what allows her to somehow articulate this: process over time and space/page, process voiced and vocalized.
She instructs: “Open a page What does it look like” (Dura, 96)
To answer this question is how I find my way into her work.
I notate, I scribble, I enter into the energies of her space, the invitation of the page and how it looks. I feel welcomed to participate in the making of sense-meaning, in forming my own utterance, arriving at the lyric through a collaborative process that spans time and (white)space. In response, I offer my process and sense-making triggered by the words, and the spaces between the words, of Kim’s Commons.
What a feminist poetics looks like.
common connection :: our artifact
a firm account of birthing
pregnancy & war
spiral & domesticity
suspicion & circular
form as relationship
to say what
needs to be said
disaster narrative & gender delineation
to speak well
body as shelter, as a body speaking towards
if violence via language
is plague is infestation
colonizing nature (to occupy)
what is the body dissected? (penury)
discovery of a different kind of pleasure
signal shifts | body | march |
| death | earth |
| place |
violence to body
map to daily ritual
see first line
what story here?
human & animal
the question the unknowing
what is function without relationship?
Kim, Myung Mi. Commons. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.
---. Dura. New York: Nightboat Books, 2008.
Tamiko Beyer has studied with Kundiman faculty Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Myung Mi Kim, Prageeta Sharma, and Staceyann Chin. Her poetry has appeared The Collagist,
Photo by Kian Goh.