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Maddie Kim

Revisiting Siken

At nearly every writing camp I attended during high school, “Crush” was referenced and quoted and revered by the teenaged poets around me.

Exploring beginnings in Mary Ruefle’s ‘Madness, Rack, and Honey’

At Stanford, I cycle between states of wonderment and anxiety, academically speaking, between feeling rechristened to the world after reading a wonderful poem or novel and fearful as I watch my awe transform into a more stilled understanding after the lecture. Ramakrishna said that “given a choice between going to heaven and hearing a lecture…

Between desire and liberation

The best piece of writing I read over the past few months crossed my path the way everything else seemed to this past summer: unearthed from old correspondences, fleeting and staccato as a speeding car. It was my first day of work at a feminist magazine in Los Angeles, and as my supervisor sifted through…

The moving nature of Twitter literature

I read a poem on Twitter a few weeks ago that changed my life. Which isn’t to say that my entire life changed, or that I altered my behavior or manner of being. But I will say this: scrolling through my Twitter timeline at two in the morning during a relapse – in a moment…

On the inner life and the imagination of everyday communication

There is a poem by Meghan Privitello called “[Even when I’m naked I can’t tell the truth]” which I love and which leaves me feeling utterly gutted every time I read it. This is what I cherish about poetry: the being both emptied and overtaken, the breathlessness of a language whose purpose extends beyond the mere…

Force in (and out of) fiction

If part of the Iliad’s brilliance lies in its honest depiction of war—that is, one without any clear, permanent victors—I want to reconsider my beliefs on the responsibility of fiction and the effects that narratives with clear protagonists can have on their readers.

On poetic truth

The more poetry I read, though, the less I think about objective truth. It is certainly important to have it, but what makes me feel exhilarated and full-stomached and out of breath when I read poems I love are the lines that are approximate, that capture a nameless feeling without necessarily meaning something certain.


Images give us a respite from the ever-occurring events of our lives, as continuous as the time in which they pass, which we try to make sense of and often find that we can’t.

Intimacy in academia

Last week, I was suddenly overwhelmed by quiet panic during a lecture; in trying to go over in my mind arguments encompassing Hamlet or Montaigne, I felt incapable of accepting or understanding their grandness.

Asian-American icons and poetry

When all I had known was a cursory reading of Amy Tan’s “Fish Cheeks” in a fifth grade classroom, discovering Ocean Vuong and Li-Young Lee and Jenny Zhang in high school felt like revelation, both slow and staccato, learning and unlearning all I thought I knew and didn’t know.

To burn and to love

The wonder that perpetual, incendiary sunset evoked within me, I realized, matches the widespread narrative image of love as burning, as something so beautiful as to necessitate destruction.

The empathy paradox

There’s an image of empathy we all know that is beautiful: the fullness of completely understanding someone else, the symbolic walk in shoes that are not one’s own. The knowledge that someone else can share a pain so acute that would otherwise seem unbearably solitary. It’s an image inherent to empathy’s definition, an image many believe in wholeheartedly. Several studies conducted by Stanford researchers alone suggest people are motivated to feel empathy, that empathy is highly associated with social desirability, that it is as beneficial as it is admired.

That’s not my name

Since I’ve come to Stanford, nobody can seem to recognize me. What I look like, how I speak, even my name. During the first few weeks of autumn quarter, a couple of girls in my dorm complex told me that people often call them by my name, girls who are like me in that they are Asian but unlike me in ethnicity, dress, mannerisms, academic interests, hobbies, and all other facets that compose the complexity of an identity. Girls who don’t even look like me. The boy who lives down the hall asks one of them about the homework in a class we share; a girl in lecture has been greeting the other with my name for the past week. These patterns are as recurrent as they are unsettling.
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