In your book Into the Cyclorama you weave together threads of cultural identity, history, and personal experience to examine your family's immigration experience to and from South Korea. Can you tell us how you brought these threads together in your work?
What is the significance of the book's title?
I love the way you swallow the speaker's experience as a 911 operator inside the story of Jonah and the whale in "Dispatcher.” How did you come up with this structure?
You recently participated in a Writers Resist event in Washington. Can you tell us about that experience?
What role do you believe poetry plays in enacting change?
My own, evolving view about the transformative role of poetry comes down to its unique relationship to truth and empathy. Poetry bears indelible witness to cruelty, suffering, and overcoming, both private and public. Poetry seeks out the big, thorny questions, knowing that the process matters more than claiming sure and simple answers. Add to this what I believe is the most immediate impact of poetry: creating empathy. Whether a poem puts you in the shoes of a new Muslim immigrant or a serial killer, it enacts the experience of thinking and feeling as another consciousness, another voice. And empathy is the foundation for any lasting change.
What advice do you have for poets interested in using their experiences to engage in the larger political and social conversations happening in this country?
Last thought: if you’re a poet, you’re probably pretty good at using words. Whether it’s in a tweet, a letter to a representative, or a conversation with your neighbor, you can use your talent for language to advocate for what you believe is just.
Annie Kim is the author of Eros, Unbroken (2020), winner of the Library of Virginia Literary Award in Poetry and the Washington Poetry Prize, and Into the Cyclorama (2016), winner of the Michael Waters Poetry Prize and a finalist for the Foreword INDIES Poetry Book of the Year. Kim’s poems have appeared in journals such as Adroit Journal, Beloit Poetry Journal, Cincinnati Review, Kenyon Review, Pleiades, Plume, and Narrative. She is an assistant professor at the University of Virginia School of Law, consults on local government legal issues, and writes essays for DMQ Review.
WHAT WRITERHOUSE STUDENTS ARE SAYING ABOUT ANNIE
“She gave wonderful explanations to clarify differences of approach.””
“Well-prepared. Excellent handout—such a variety of poems to examine.”
“Very good informal and interactive style.”
“Honored all input from students. Offers great examples of texts. She’s fabulously generous!”
“Excellent in every way, including examples given in class. Generous, enthusiastic, articulate.”
“Explained well. Great examples!”