New poetry from award-winning translator, Jake Levine!
THE IMAGINED COUNTRY is a core collection of poems written between 2010 and 2021. Split into three sections, the books draws a cognitive and imaginary map between the past and the future. The first section writes in response to the historical loss and trauma of Jewish memory in Lithuania. The second section with the carnivalesque shock of monster kitsch and hyper-capitalism in Seoul. And the final section is about darkly navigating the path of reconciling these competing influences into a singular existence.
“The first thing I love about Jake Levine’s poems is their memorability. His phrases enter the mind and make themselves very much at home, you want to quote them, they keep coming back on the tongue. The second thing is the fact that Jake Levine is a master of tone: there is so much tension between the lines because emotions are in conflict, and even if everything is quiet, we are told it is a quiet no one can imagine / and sometimes I lop both my ears off. There is no end to hilarity, and yet there is so much quiet that comes after the belly-full laugh. The third thing I love is Jake Levine’s imagery. I mean, how can you not be impressed by the eye that sees days like books made of ice melting down the shelves—but this is not just skill for the skill’s sake. There is a deep need for artfulness here, for metaphorical texture; the poet, for all his beautiful bravado (surely, Jake Levine would agree with Frank O’Hara’s notion that a lyric poet rides on the nerve alone) is mining unanswerable questions, searching for meaning of our being here at all. My evidence? It is right here in the fierce river that splits your country / I swim inside the ribcage / of the invented self, diagramming / the memory of a field I call home. That, friends is a metaphysics. And Jake Levine, via images, tone, and music, those blessed tools of poetic craft, makes it memorable.”- Ilya Kaminsky, author of Deaf Republic
Politics, Korea, International, Race relations
Jake Levine has edited, authored, translated, or co- translated over a dozen books, including Kim Yideum's HYSTERIA (Action Books, 2019), which was the first and only book to win both the National Translation Award and Lucien Stryk Prize. He was a Fulbright fellow to Lithuania in 2010, where he served as program director of Summer Literary Seminars, taught poetry at Vilnius University, and started the Vilnius Bagel Project with Menachem Kaiser. For years he edited poetry at Spork Press, served as the Managing Editor and Editor-in-Chief of Sonora Review, and currently edits and curates the Moon Country Korean Poetry Series at Black Ocean. He is Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Keimyung University and ABD in the comparative literature program at Seoul National University, where he was a Korean Government Scholarship recipient. Beyond literature, he has translated various cultural contents, including the diaries of the Dansaekwha artist, Yun Hyong- keun, and song lyrics for the K-pop group ENHYPEN.