Instances: Selected Poems
One of Korea's most exacting and innovative poets, Jeongrye Choi writes a poetry that uncovers the strangeness of everyday experience. Alert and streetwise, but tuned into the undercurrent of things, Choi's poetry creates environments at once familiar but dreamlike, marked by a preternatural clarity. Favoring imagistic condensation and formal trimness, Choi's poetry possesses a highly-suggestive, allusive intensity that locates the startling within the familiar. Always rooted in the here-and-now, Choi's speakers are simultaneously outside it, questioning the propriety of our taken-for-granted arrangements. Delicate and wistful, this poetry has the tensile strength to address itself to the deepest challenges of human experience: as Choi writes, with characteristic (and deceptive) off-handedness, "hey abyss." In a world of inconstancy and ceaseless transformation, Choi's poetry forgoes easy consolations and instead offers poetry of the highest order as the only consolation. Reading it offers an almost vertiginous sense of the variousness of experience. As Brenda Hillman observes, "There is a quality of imagination in her work that is still a rare thing in poetry."