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ISBN: 978-1-73443-770-6
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Categories Chapbooks, Nomadic, Poetry

Reserve the Right

Publication Date: January 2020


In June of 2023, Black Lawrence Press welcomed numerous existing and forthcoming Nomadic Press titles to our catalogue. Reserve the Right was originally published by Nomadic.

Classroom guide and introduction written by author inside. Reserve the Right by Yume Kim is a semi-autobiographical collection of poems shared through the perspective of a second-generation Korean immigrant woman who fights to break an overwhelming silence as she navigates the continual onslaught of patriarchal and racial oppression. Through sharing unapologetic snapshots of the ugliness within these experiences, Kim discovers self-love and the power of self-fashioning her own dialogue. This is a collection toward reclamation of self.


Yume Kim’s Reserve the Right is brassy, crass, foul-mouthed, and after several glasses of Southern Comfort in, ready to inform you that everything you thought you knew about Korean girls is about to be undone. Graphically rendered, unabashed, and holding no punches, the world of this book dreams a braver life for Asian American women who may find some vindication in Kim’s imagination that tells us of detached vaginas that become bright red foxes, of fury that might move us beyond a deep bodily violation, and other images sure to make you do a spit-take.
Muriel Leung, author of Bone Confetti

Yume Kim’s extraordinary collection of poems, Reserve the Right, takes an unwavering, clear-eyed gaze on the violence of racism, the othering of people-of-color, the objectification of the Asian female body, class disparities, intergenerational trauma, and sexual assault. Kim’s poetry is simultaneously fierce and tender, like the vaginas she writes of, piercing fox teeth bound in soft flesh. Her poems inspire readers to feel their anger, to cry, to name the trauma. I’ve never read a collection as taut, as powerfully written with such fierceness and fight and courage, or as filled with such magic and biting humor, as Reserve the Right.

Yume Kim’s writing is the voice inside of our heads that we often want to silence. We don’t know if this voice is the quintessential version of ourselves, or if our truth is one with the silencer or is, in fact, the silence in itself. No matter what the internal conflict is, this book is Yume’s truth written so honestly that it can be referred to as vulgar (as was Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye)–it may even be called ugly for the ways in which it makes us reflect on ourselves. But at its core, it is good and honest writing. Yume Kim is letting her readers know why she feels damaged, and she is proclaiming that even though these petals maybe bruised, they are still quite colorful–and there is beauty in picking oneself up off of the floor. There is beauty in surviving, even if our brains tell us otherwise.
Vernon Keeve III, author of Southern Migrant Mixtape, 2019 winner of the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award

Yume Kim’s work wrestles with identity and belonging in a racist, sexist, xenophobic America. With powerful vulnerability, Kim takes the reader on walks, bars, and dizzy moments that call for us to reflect on who we are as artists, poets, educators, and people. “I want to snap a photo of this juxtaposition and then text it to you,” Kim as she describes the changing San Francisco landscape. You too will want to share this timely collection with your friends to rethink the dreams, nightmares, and instances that have shaped the ways we reclaim our identities and resist.
José Héctor Cadena PhD Candidate, The University of Kansas Voz Sin Tinta Co-Founder

About the Author

Yume Kim

Yume Kim is a poet, essayist, educator, and author of her debut poetry chapbook, entitled as Reserve the Right. In 2011, she moved from her home state Virginia to California for her graduate studies at San Francisco State University. There, she earned both an M.A. in English and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Additionally, she became a Kundiman Fellow in 2012 and a Ruby Fellow recipient for the 2022-2023 year.  Some of her works can also be found in the following journals: gesture, sPARKLE + bLINK, West Wind Review, Transfer, Sugared Water, Writing Without Walls, The Bangalore Review, You Might Need to Hear This, and The Sad Girls Lit Club. Yume currently still resides in San Francisco, where she both tutors and teaches.

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