My Poetry Corner July 2017 features the poem “Immigrant Song” by Sun Yung Shin, a Korean-American poet, writer, and educator. Born in Seoul, South Korea, she was one year old when an American couple adopted her. Raised in Chicago, she later moved to Minneapolis where she earned a BA in English from Macalester College and a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of St. Thomas. She teaches at Macalester College and lives with her husband and their two children.
When asked about her relationship with the English language in an interview with Lightsey Darst for Minnesota Artists (January 2016), Sun Yung Shin said that strangers often question her ability to speak English without a “foreign” accent. Her fluency and sense of belonging as an Asian American offend them.
Shin’s opening verses in “Immigrant Song” from her poetry collection, Skirt Full of Black (winner of the 2007 Asian American Literary Award for Poetry), express the restraints she faces to achieve her full potential as a human being. Continue reading