Emily Jungmin Yoon Recommends...

“I write in irregular flares. This isn’t to say that I wait for inspiration to strike: I sift through lines that others have written before me, and use them as lassoes to catch my own. I locate an interesting image, a narrative structure, or even a word (its sound, its meaning, its shape) that does the job. When I’m lost and can’t find the next line or path in a poem-in-progress, the frustration can feel like disenchantment with the whole poem. Sometimes I need to step away and return to poems that reawaken me and offer guidance. Brigit Pegeen Kelley’s ‘Song,’ John Murillo’s ‘Upon Reading That Eric Dolphy Transcribed Even the Calls of Certain Species of Birds,’ and Li-Young Lee’s ‘From Blossoms’ are some of them. These are poems that are in my mind’s permanent collection. I look at the ways the stories turn, the music of the language, the role of repetition, and everything I loved that made me think: I want to write a poem like this, I want to write like this, I want to write.”
—Emily Jungmin Yoon, author of A Cruelty Special to Our Species (Ecco, 2018)

Photo credit: Jean Lachat