Yi Yon-Ju made her literary debut in a Korean journal called World of Writers (Chakga ui sekye) in 1991. One of the nine poems published there was “Family Photo.” The same year, Yi’s first book of poetry, A Night Market Where There Are Prostitutes (Maeumnyo ka ittnun pam ui sijang) was published. Yi’s second collection of poems was published in 1993, after her death by suicide in 1992. Here is a short poem of hers, translated from the Korean by Don Mee Choi, as it appeared in Artful Dodge 44/45. Accompanying images selected from the internet by assistant editor, Ananya Shrestha.
Festival of Waste
We are discarded clocks or broken radios,
old car seat covers or umbrellas with severed frames.
We sell useless kitchenware, old gas furnaces.
We buy worn-out shoes, clothes that don’t fit,
any burdensome goods.
Crinkled bills and discolored coins, we are.
Cut wire, we are.
No transmission, no reception.