The Kimchi Poetry Machine Manifesta



The Kimchi Poetry Machine is a different kind of jar.


Instead of kimchi, there are small paper pieces of poetry. And instead of smelling pungent fermented cabbage, your eardrums are lulled by luminous feminist poetry.



The Kimchi Poetry Machine is a response to “bookless” libraries and a digital future without poetry.


Feminist poets offer me solace. Their poetic lines slayed me that summer I simply read. Their spirits find mine too; I want to lay on that grassy hill and read Dickinson all day with you.


The Kimchi Poetry Machine is powered by open-source electronic prototyping platforms such as Arduino and Adafruit.



At the lab, I tried so many times, but each time being closer to electric wires felt like a burning iron to my skin. But she coaxed me not to be afraid.


She guided my hands so I could find the button and press.


While the drive to bring poetry into the future includes publishing poetry on digital tablets, The Kimchi Poetry Machine reimagines how tangible computing, paper, and participation can be utilized to create a new poetic & feminist experience from a jar.



The Kimchi Poetry Machine utilizes tangible computing to make interactive poetry from our near future.


My obsession with machines is feminist, believe it or not.

My obsession with kimchi is feminist, believe it or not.

My obsession with kimchi machines is Korean, believe it or not.


When the jar is opened, poetry audibly flows from it, and poetry readers and listeners are immersed with the meditative experience of poetry.



Small “kimchi twitter” paper poems are housed inside the jar, with each poem is printed alongside an invitation to tweet a poem to The Kimchi Poetry Machine. These paper poems, which were designed by The Mystery Parade, are freely available to each person engaging with the poetry machine.




Take your hands, and knead the cabbage, with hot peppers, remember making is a tradition of women, in which women have control.


Eight original “kimchi twitter” poems were written for the machine on issues of womanhood, culture, and kimchi by invited poets. These poems were published on twitter every Wednesday in the Fall of 2014.



I want to rethink twitter as a poetic and participatory tool.


Have you considered how one mourns food?


“At that time, if you had a piece of steak this big {she gestures with her hands} that was left over, you would throw it out, but if you had even one piece of kimchi left, you couldn’t bring yourself to throw it away. If kimchi is left over, you always save it.” – Mrs. Crispin (Beyond the Shadow of Camptown: Korean Military Brides in America by Ji-Yeon Yuh)


I am hungry right now, feed me, I am opening my palm to you.


This is the kimchi poetry machine manifesta, a series of alarms, excursions, and dreams.


Devi Laskar, Erin Adair-Hodges, Micha Cárdenas, Shelley Lee, Hyejong Kook, Sun Yung Shin, and Terry Hong = machine poetas


For now, only women and transwomen are programmed in the feminist poetry machine. But hoping you all write with us.


What I want. What I believe:


Poetry is feminist, and the future. Poetry should be free.

Thank you to Emily Brandt and Justine el-Khazen for their vital editorial guidance, Izzy Dean and Rachel Voigt for their vital feedback on the revision process, and the machine poetas for their feminist poemas.


Rhee Author PhotoMARGARET RHEE is the author of chapbooks Radio Heart; or How Robots Fall Out of Love (Finishing Line Press, 2016) and Yellow (Tinfish Press, 2011). Currently, she is co-editing an anthology of Korean American women’s poetry to be published by Tupelo Press in 2017. As a new media artist, her projects include The Kimchi Poetry Machine, and From the Center, a feminist digital storytelling program led for and with incarcerated women inside and outside the San Francisco Jail. She holds a PhD in ethnic studies and new media studies from the University of California, Berkeley. She is a visiting assistant professor in Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Oregon.