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

Margaret J Rhee mrhee at uoregon.edu
Wed May 31 03:58:18 AEST 2017

Hi Sun Yung and Keith,

I am always so deeply moved by both of your work, and thrilled for these 
cross-connections. I think utilizing the uncanny valley as a metaphor or 
the parallels for racial formations, resistance, and depictions of 
radicalized violence is very powerful.

In particular, I feel in both of your work, the utilization of visuality 
within the textual poetics is so deeply interesting and innovative. 
Questions around visuality in poetry is something I've been grappling 
with, especially in Sun Yung's recent book, in which she also includes 
documents, and I also think of Claudia Rankine's Don't Let Me Be Lonely, 
and Citizen, in which visual images and documents are included, and 
connect to Keith's work as well. It is moving to think about how you 
both utilize charts/graphs/uncanny valley in these resistant ways, and 
within poetry.

Would love to hear about the process of turning to the visual within 
your works, and how it may differ from the poetic questions asked in 
textual poetry? Keith, I'm curious as to how your background as a 
graphic designer also shapes your poetry? And if both of you may have 
thoughts on this, to add to our conversation we began at the start of 
the month, what is robot poetics, and how might robot poetics help us to 
talk about these pressing issues of race?

with love,


On 2017-05-26 09:15, Sun Yung Shin wrote:
> Hi everyone,
> This is amazing.
> Keith, I include the uncanny valley chart found on Wikipedia (in
> English and in Korean) in my most recent book_ Unbearable Splendor_,
> but unaltered. Your poems are beautiful.
>>> 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?
> My short story “Glitch” incorporates a lot of recurring
> preoccupations in my writing—reproduction, twins, doubles,
> masks/faces, animals, sleep/waking, and emerging interest in
> photography and seeing. I’m interested in robots in terms of the
> “programmability of affection,” identity, ahistoricality,
> parentlessness, genealogical disruption…
> I’m mostly interested in science fiction film rather than
> literature—in Hollywood science fiction films, we are more likely to
> get big ideas presented, even if badly, and have ensemble casts that
> are, these days, more likely to have more people of color in them,
> even if they die first, are subordinate, etc. etc. They’re generally
> just as racist / nationalist / male white savior-y as other Hollywood
> projects but at least they’re not entirely about middle class white
> peoples’ domestic problems. And they’re kinetic, and include
> interesting machines, which is something I appreciate about the genre.
> 신 선 영 Sun Yung Shin
> sunyungshin at gmail.com
> www.sunyungshin.com
> www.agoodtimeforthetruth.com
>> On May 25, 2017, at 8:49 PM, Keith S. Wilson
>> <keithwilson13 at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Hey all! All of this is so cool, thank you so much for inviting me
>> to participate!
>> 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 nature.
>> 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 [1]
>>> https://machinedreamszine.tumblr.com [2]
>>> 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.
> Links:
> ------
> [1] https://issuu.com/repcollective/docs/machine_dreams_issuu
> [2] https://machinedreamszine.tumblr.com/

Margaret Rhee, Ph.D.

Visiting Assistant Professor
Women's and Gender Studies
University of Oregon

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