A Cruelty Special to Our Species: Poems

A Cruelty Special to Our Species: Poems

A piercing debut collection of poems exploring gender, race, and violence from a sensational new talent

In her arresting collection, urgently relevant for our times, poet Emily Jungmin Yoon confronts the histories of sexual violence against women, focusing in particular on Korean so-called “comfort women,” women who were forced into sexual labor in Japanese-occupied territories during World War II.

In wrenching language, A Cruelty Special to Our Species unforgettably describes the brutalities of war and the fear and sorrow of those whose lives and bodies were swept up by a colonizing power, bringing powerful voice to an oppressed group of people whose histories have often been erased and overlooked. “What is a body in a stolen country,” Yoon asks. “What is right in war.”

Moving readers through time, space, and different cultures, and bringing vivid life to the testimonies and confessions of the victims,Yoon takes possession of a painful and shameful history even while unearthing moments of rare beauty in acts of resistance and resilience, and in the instinct to survive and bear witness.

Title:A Cruelty Special to Our Species: Poems
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9780062843692
Format Type:

About Emily Jungmin Yoon

Emily Jungmin Yoon is the author of A Cruelty Special to Our Species (Ecco Books, September 2018) and Ordinary Misfortunes (Tupelo Press, July 2017), winner of the Sunken Garden Chapbook Prize. Her poems and translations have appeared in The New Yorker, New York Times Magazine, Poetry, and elsewhere. She has received awards and fellowships from the Poetry Foundation, Ploughshares’ Emerging Writer’


    A Cruelty Special to Our Species: Poems Reviews

  • Clemlucian (🏳??🌈the brooding witch)

    Rating:⭐⭐⭐I’m disappointed. The beginning is good because I wasn’t used to the format or the theme but all the poems say the same thing: Korean women have been through hell. The poems are sh...

  • Jenna

    I've long known Yoon's work via the poetry salons of New York City as well as via her role as poetry editor for the Asian American Writers Workshop's literary magazine The Margins, so I was eager to f...

  • Emily

    It's been years since I was consistently reading poetry, but I am trying to get back into it. I was a little bit hesitant about accepting A Cruelty Special to Our Species for review, but I am so glad ...

  • Kathleen

    Our Q&A for the Poetry Foundation: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/arti...The poet Emily Jungmin Yoon believes that art reminds us that “dissent can manifest itself in beautiful and complex forms....

  • Samantha

    An arresting and moving collection about Korean "comfort women" during WWII that is so well-thought-out and put together, in terms of taking hold of a narrative that hasn't been widely shared (and the...

  • Nhi

    there were several times i wanted to just...close this book, put it out of my mind, forget i ever read it, because it was just too much. the sorrow, the unresolved grief. speaking of grief here are so...

  • Katya Kazbek

    I’ve been dying to read about the tragic history of “comfort women” since I, an immigrant to the US, and not that well-versed on East Asian history, first heard about them on the radio. And this...

  • GHP

    Pure. Fire. Read it....

  • Jeffrey Parker

    A compelling and powerful collection that centers around the personal history Comfort Women and the continuing impact over generations. But the story is not that simple. These poems show echoes of tha...

  • Mya

    An arresting collection that draws attention to individual experiences of Korean women from a not-long-gone past, whose history has been forgotten by contemporary desire to forget humanity’s most in...