Jo Malsun

Translated by Jiyoon Lee

Excerpts from ROUNDED SEIZURE (둥근 발작) by Jo Malsun (조말선)
With an apron on

With an apron on I write a poem. With an apron on I read a book. All the experts wear aprons. A fishmonger with an apron. A chickenbutcher with an apron. A painter with an apron. Mommy with an apron. Once I put on an apron, blood spatters. I’m blood-spatteringly absorbed. You can wield a knife recklessly and openly with an apron on. All the shit you do with an apron on, the apron will take. The people who have to see blood put on an apron. All the artwork of the experts who make a living by killing the living and killing again the killed. The apron for experts is open in the back. The apron for experts occasionally has an ornamental frill. The apron for experts can conveniently be discarded. The apron with lots of blood. The apron with soil stains and depth. Once I take off the apron the poem disappears



Fluttering between two pairs of legs. A banner that is made void even before it is ripped. The spring hasn’t even passed, but the banner is already last-season; Even though it survived the heavy snow, and now comes the spring, even though it survived the cold, now comes the spring, curtain, just passing its expiration date. The time and the place is clearer than snow, the time and the place is further than night, the slogan remains like a wedding vow; everyday it flutters like the bedsheet from the first night. It flutters like a crone who has been a bride for a hundred years. It flutters like a codger who has been a groom for a hundred years. Curtain, a hundred years just passes by. Without even the first night, curtain, the wedding ceremony ends. Without even the first night, curtain, goes through the first night. For a hundred years, curtain, an invitation that is returned addressee unknown


a ginormous dress

I put in my arms put in my breasts put in my legs put in my scars
And I disappear

Put in my religion put in my temperature put in my blood put in my weapon
And I disappear

There is squirmy squirm left
There is lumpy lump left

I bring an eyeball and put it on the dress
The dress with an eye open walks around the place

The dress wants to get bigger every day
The dress wants to catch the wind every day
I disappear into a squirmy curve

I put in the habit put in the custom put in the discord
The dress expands

People look around looking for me
I look around looking for me

Flutter fluttering the dress runs
Round and around, looking for me, the dress runs

Jo Malsun was born in Gimhae, Gyungnam, Republic of Korea in 1965. She graduated from Dongah University, majoring in French literature, and her debut in Contemporary Poetics Monthly won the Busan Daily Spring Literary Award in 1998. Jo was awarded the Contemporary Poet Award in 2001, and Contemporary Poetics Award in 2012. She is the author of Very Light Discourse (Munhak-Segye-Sa), Rounded Seizure (Changbi), and The Scent of Jasmine is Born through a Dark Pair of Nostrils (Munhak-Dongnae).

Jiyoon Lee received MFA in Creative Writing from University of Notre Dame. She has two chapbooks: IMMA from Radioactive Moat Press, and Funsize/Bitesize, forthcoming from Birds of Lace Press. Her first book Foreigner’s Folly is forthcoming from Coconut Books. She is a frequent contributing writer at