Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Commons” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


(New California Poetry #5)

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  241 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Myung Mi Kim's Commons weighs on the most sensitive of scales the minute grains of daily life in both peace and war, registering as very few works of literature have done our common burden of being subject to history. Abstracting colonization, war, immigration, disease, and first-language loss until only sparse phrases remain, Kim takes on the anguish and displacement of t ...more
Paperback, 120 pages
Published March 4th 2002 by University of California Press (first published January 1st 2002)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Commons, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Commons

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default
Dec 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Fragmentary, abstract, completely compelling and yet ungraspable, this book is so big and complex I hardly know what to say. Language at its most innovative and complicated and necessary. Worth reading again and again.
One aspect:
"Little flower,
What day is it
The light stops at glum
O'clock and f
A rain saturated tree trunk becomes a feeling
The city of one's birth and the people inside it"
Nov 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars
Nov 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Have you ever seen the tongue inside a parrot's beak?
A voice that repeats whatever someone trains it.
That yearns to say, just once, a word not in that voice
Have you ever seen that pink, narrow, small tongue?
-Myung‐Soo Kim, "The Parrot's Tongue"

Much of literature is contained with puzzles. The religious symbolism of Blake, the semantic complexity of Joyce, the word play of Terayama, all of which require solutions. These are small ways of unraveling and discovering artistic truth. Every now and ag
Dec 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
Despite countless readings, I still have very little idea about what is going on in Myung Mi Kim’s collection of poems, Commons. Surprisingly, I am fine with this. Even more surprisingly, it is one of the main reasons why I keep coming back to re-read the collection. And each time that I come back to re-read Kim’s poems, something new reveals itself to me. The first time, I was mostly hung up on trying to understand the narrative thread through her poems, and trying to link that back to the cour ...more
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, poetry
Reading Commons should be done slowly, attentively. It’s a book that will break your heart, but it’s a book that reminds you it is not your heart that is significant here. Her details are pained, gasping with silence, analogous to the history therein:

“Mapping needles, minerals and gems. Furs and lumber. Alterations through the loss or
transposition of even a single syllable. The next day is astronomical distance and a gnarled
hand pulling up wild onion.”


“Translucence of cut pears on glass plates
Nov 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Myung Mi Kim is one of the few poets I've run across who reads with as much precision as she writes. And as much as this collection is about that unsettled, struggling place between languages, listening to it read seems crucial:

Man, the valence of her voice--it trembles with authority.



Swallow Swallow Bird

This is the gullet

Helmets make cooking pots

Tin cans make roofs

[sparrow, crow]

Not much left
Not much left

At it's worst avant poetry can be
Sep 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Commons is enormously challenging, but a masterwork of subtext and silence. A superbly successful collection of poetry, and one that's incredibly relevant to current refugee displacement – Kim deftly explores the diaspora and othering that are inextricably linked to the refugee identity. Recommended reading for anyone with a soul, though if you're not up for a challenge you're going to have a hard time with this. (Protip: read it out loud.)
Edward Rathke
Oct 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a surprising little collection that holds so much weight in its white spaces.

I didn't much like it at first but it expanded while I read into this enormous thing. This endless voice of simple things juxtaposed with the fallout of war. It's very image driven with very little sense of trying to communicate the way we normally do. Sentences aren't common in the collection, but it doesn't feel overly sparse either.

It's confounding and maybe brilliant.
Carrie Lorig
Feb 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
myung mi kim is every day important. i feel desperate in my assertions. because she is so far beyond any noise i could make or could comprehend making. she is a tender knowledge of the being that tries. that tries from its position. do not overlook her. or rather do.
ryo narasaki
Apr 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
i have to admit i didnt get it. but after hearing Myung Mi talk about it and read directly from it, i want to read and listen more. it really got to me at the public reading in the kaleidescope room at UVA.
April Peletta
Dec 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-poetry
Visually stunning with content to match.
Andy Stallings
Nov 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Phenomenal, the opposite of the Spahr book I read right before. A book to look deeper and deeper into. The politic poetics I've been looking for, in that it's poetry.
Jul 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
great book of poetry
Mar 28, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Like language poetry? You'll like this.
Apr 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing

something at the end

parts that seem discrete


rated it it was amazing
Sep 19, 2008
rated it really liked it
Nov 10, 2018
rated it liked it
Mar 20, 2017
rated it it was amazing
Aug 13, 2008
Ellen Baxt
rated it really liked it
Aug 17, 2007
rated it really liked it
Oct 15, 2012
rated it really liked it
Dec 19, 2011
rated it it was amazing
Aug 25, 2007
Geoffrey Olsen
rated it it was amazing
Jul 27, 2009
rated it really liked it
Oct 14, 2017
Sun Yung
rated it it was amazing
Sep 03, 2007
rated it liked it
Mar 04, 2008
rated it really liked it
Apr 14, 2015
rated it liked it
Oct 21, 2017
rated it it was amazing
Apr 27, 2017
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • I Love Artists
  • Recyclopedia: Trimmings / S*PeRM**K*T / Muse and Drudge
  • Fuck You-Aloha-I Love You
  • The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers
  • The Descent of Alette
  • The Language of Inquiry
  • Singularities
  • The Age of Huts (compleat)
  • New Collected Poems
  • Dance Dance Revolution
  • 100 Notes on Violence
  • A Bernadette Mayer Reader
  • The Granite Pail: The Selected Poems
  • Black Dog Songs
  • My Vocabulary Did This to Me: The Collected Poetry
  • Rising, Falling, Hovering
  • Plot
Myung Mi Kim (born December 6, 1957) is a Korean American poet noted for her postmodern writings.

Kim and her family immigrated to the United States when she was 9 years old. She holds a Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Iowa and lectured for some years on creative writing at the San Francisco State University. She is currently Professor of English at the University at Buffalo.

(from Wikip

Other books in the series

New California Poetry (1 - 10 of 33 books)
  • For
  • Enola Gay
  • Selected Poems
  • Sleeping With the Dictionary
  • The Guns and Flags Project
  • Gone
  • Why/Why Not
  • A Carnage in the Lovetrees
  • The Seventy Prepositions
  • Not Even Then
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »