Rosanna Young Oh
Rosanna Young Oh is a Korean American poet and essayist who was born in Daejeon, Korea, and grew up on Long Island. Her writing has appeared in publications such as Best New Poets, Harvard Review Online, Blackbird, and 32 Poems. A graduate of Yale, Johns Hopkins, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she lives and writes in New York.
Portrait courtesy of Pete Coco, photographer
The Corrected Version
forthcoming March 2023
About the Book
At its heart, Rosanna Young Oh’s debut collection of poems, The Corrected Version, is an immigrant narrative that ponders what it means to be an American. Who or what do we leave behind when we move to a new country? Who or what do we take with us? Traveling through Korean folklore, paintings, Long Island, a family grocery store, and Buddhism, the book meditates on the process of making meaning out of the lives we create for ourselves—a task that has the speaker relentlessly questioning, investigating, erasing, and rewriting the stories she ultimately chooses to inherit as her own. A book about survival, it is also a journey made gentle by moments of love and compassion.
“A woman pulls a hair from the yolk of an egg. A watermelon rind from Hokusai looks like flesh. A woodcutter falls in love with an angel. In poems reminiscent of Jenny Xie, Jack Gilbert, and the haiku writers translated by Robert Hass, Rosanna Young Oh creates two parallel worlds: the working class milieu of her father's grocery and the sumptuous interiority of the poet within. Through poignant glimpses of the poet's relationship with her father, we see the family as the site of work, also of myth and melancholy. While these poems are suffused by a Buddhist searching, the poet has no choice but to cling to the world, which is where we see beautiful things and love our mother and father. Rosanna Young Oh's The Corrected Version is a work of stunning clarity, longing, and a painterly eye.”
— Ken Chen, author of Juvenilia
“The tacit questionings in The Corrected Version are brave and forthright: what stories are true? what is love and what is duty? what are the limits to hope and certainty? The voice in this collection feels disillusioned from the start, but allows for expansive identifications, bodily as well as spiritual. In it, we can feel how well the paradox of desire and duty, or the inner life swelling and the external world diminishing, fits our sense of things if we care to notice. Up against the explicitly meditative or discursive moments in these poems, we often come upon an indelible image, such as ‘the squid lie in golden halves among the coals, / like kites sparking in black clouds of firelight.’ It is no epiphanic image, and as such, a searching inquiry is mesmerizingly, hauntingly felt.”
— Sandra Lim, author of The Curious Thing
“Poetry worth our time and money must rise from the words like a siren’s song, luring us, and it must enchant us with tales that break our hearts, as if that is the only truth, and it must leave us with hope, so we can dream. The dream is always about freedom and survival and love, the song about what life’s real costs are. Rosanna Young Oh’s brilliant first collection of poems, The Corrected Version, is the best kind of poetry—fresh, ambitious, sardonic, wise, bittersweet, efficient with edges—the kind that says I am worth paying attention to. Trust me, reader, Oh is that and more.”
— Dave Smith, author of Hunting Men: Reflections on a Life in American Poetry
“The speaker of Rosanna Young Oh’s first poetry collection, The Corrected Version, serves as a bridge between two distinctly different cultures which the poet manages only through her emotional commitment to living and feeling both sides, deeply. This modulation between cultures, this intricate balancing act fed by Korean myth, folktales, proverbs and classical Korean poetry on one side, and its astute, cleverly sardonic take on American culture on the other, is what gives this collection its soul. An elegance of diction and muscular figures of speech throughout betray a shocking intimacy of sprit that draws me into these poems where some uneasy things are revealed, but finely contrasted with a variety of allusions to Eastern and Western literary and philosophical traditions that mitigate. This is also a carefully packaged family epic as well, the characters emerging throughout and taking their place within the tableau that is the unfolding of this collection. Yeah, it’s that good, and driven by a maturity of vision that can be learned only if you are willing to relinquish yourself to language, and to the force that is poetry.”
— Bruce Weigl, author of Among Elms, in Ambush