[-empyre-] Machine Dreams: Introducing Keith Wilson and Sun Yung Shin!

Keith S. Wilson keithwilson13 at gmail.com
Fri May 26 11:49:36 AEST 2017

Hey all! All of this is so cool, thank you so much for inviting me to

My work is often about social justice, the body, otherness, love, family,
or politics and the imagery I gravitate to tends to be animal/bird or
space/sci-fi/fantasy related. In those ways my pieces in Machine Dreams fit
into the whole of my most recent work, though in both cases my pieces
reached even further than I typically explore in terms of their speculative

I've always loved science fiction, though maybe it's an accident of intent
(I am never sure how invested a lot of my favorite sci-fi actually is in my
politics, even when they seem to claim to be, as in the case with a movie
like District 9). I think that what I've loved about sci-fi since an early
age is that aliens and robots and androids and cyborgs are all metaphors
for othered circumstances--of being a "minority" in some sense or finding
yourself in a strange place surrounded by people who are fascinated, but
not in love, with the kind of creature you happen to be.

So I submitted a visual piece based on the concept of the uncanny valley
and a triptych. I wrote the triptych, based on Asimov's robotic laws,
mapping the personal constraints of love (which are psychological,
societal, etc) with the ones Asimov describes. What if we already know what
it's like to, by design, be incapable of taking an action we might
otherwise take?

The uncanny valley poem began as a sketch I was using to talk to Krista
Franklin (an awesome afro-futurist artist and poet) about why I am so
interested in the uncanny valley. To summarize: the uncanny valley is about
a feeling of confusion, unease, or terror we get just before a thing
switches between recognizable binary options. Living in that valley can be
hard (for me, it's between blackness and whiteness) but I also think that
we have used that valley for hundreds of years to justify the inhumane. If
on one hand we have animals who have no rights and who we feel we can kill
freely, and on the other we have humanity, a human being need not actually
be in the uncanny valley at all. Instead, we find excuses and ways to
pretend as if he is, and destroy his body.This happened to Emmett Till, of
course, and his mother made the world look at him: in order to pull him
back from the valley where he was dragged.

On Thu, May 25, 2017 at 2:47 PM, Margaret J Rhee <mrhee at uoregon.edu> wrote:

> Continuing Mark and Saba's generative comments and reading of the Zine,
> and cyborg/robot poetics, I'm so pleased to introduced Keith Wilson and Sun
> Yung Shin to our conversation.
> This week, we will be introducing different contributors to the Machine
> Dreams Zine throughout the days.
> In particular, Keith Wilson and Sun Yung Shin are both incredible poets
> and writers transgressing robot poetics by way of intersections with
> Keith's work on Black history, resistance, and visuality, and Sun Yung's
> work on Haraway, Adoptee issues, and Korean Diaspora.
> Their contributions can be found on page 62 and 65, for Keith's powerfully
> visual poem on the horrifying untimely death of Emmett Till,
> and Sun Yung's enchanting short story of clones, and glitches, found on
> page 53. Their bios are below, please check out their work here:
> https://issuu.com/repcollective/docs/machine_dreams_issuu
> https://machinedreamszine.tumblr.com
> Sun Yung and Keith, perhaps to begin, can you talk a bit about your
> contributions, and how it may differ or build upon your larger body of
> work, and what is your approach grappling with robots poetically, and as
> Mark writes, and issues of difference such as race, gender, and sexuality?
> -----
> Keith S. Wilson is a game designer, an Affrilachian Poet, Cave Canem
> fellow, and graduate of the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop. He serves
> as Assistant Poetry Editor at Four Way Review and Digital Media Editor and
> Web Consultant at Obsidian Journal. Keith has received three scholarships
> from Bread Loaf as well as scholarships from the Millay Colony, Poetry by
> the Sea, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. He holds an MFA in
> poetry from Chicago State University.
> 신 선 영 Sun Yung Shin was born in Seoul, Korea, during 박 정 희 Park
> Chung-hee's military dictatorship, and grew up in the Chicago area. She is
> the editor of A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota, author of
> poetry collections Unbearable Splendor (winner of the 2016 Minnesota Book
> Award for poetry); Rough, and Savage; and Skirt Full of Black (winner of
> the 2007 Asian American Literary Award for poetry), co-editor of Outsiders
> Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption, and author of bilingual
> illustrated book for children Cooper’s Lesson. She lives in Minneapolis.
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