Sue Hyon Bae’s speakers exist in a state of displacement, expressing an ambivalent relationship to America, a love of its ideals and individuals as well as constant self-awareness of identity. The poems work on their own logic and adopt a deadpan tone on sexuality and the surreal. Through autobiography and persona, they question the validity of memories, and the study of perfection casts utopia as dystopia. Truce Country is a dazzling debut collection.
Sue Hyon Bae was raised in South Korea, Malaysia, and Texas. Her co-translation of Kim Hyesoon’s A Drink of Red Mirror was published in 2019.
She lives in Phoenix.
Sue Hyon Bae’s Truce Country adjusts a vibrant lyric that, nevertheless, carries heavy messages of complaint with regard to an imaginary place that ultimately, of course, reminds the reader of the two Koreas. In my opinion, she seems possessed by something close to the matured genius of Franz Kafka... What a wonderful book.
These poems (sometimes skeptical or austere, sometimes intimate and funny) are always savvy and moving, unsettling in their surprise-
connections. They ricochet and risk and reach. I love Bae’s elegant, demanding mind here as she tells us the truth—or makes it up: after all, she says, “I am no longer capable of hearing my own strangeness.” Well, we hear her, and are marked by the fierce precision of her voice.
— Sally Ball
Truce country was selected by The Telegraph to appear in their poem of the week.
Sue Hyon Bae has had one of her poems selected by the judges for this year's Forward Prize anthology - The Forward Book of Poetry 2021 - as one of the best poems of the year.