kimchi poetry machine


Your Poetry In the Future Comes in a Kimchi Jar 

The Kimchi Poetry Machine is a different kind of jar. Instead of kimchi, there are small paper pieces of poetry. And when the jar is opened, instead of the pungent smells of fermented cabbage filling your nostrils, your eardrums are lulled by the luminous readings of poetry. The Kimchi Poetry Machine reimagines how poetry can be written, listened to, and interacted with in the near future.

The Kimchi Poetry Machine was created in the CITRIS (Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society) Invention Lab at the University of California, Berkeley, by poet & machine maker Margaret Rhee. Through her Invention Lab Fellowship, Rhee has worked with inventioneers industrial designer and roboticist Chris Myers of Artbots, and technologists Mark Oehlberg and Kevin Tian as her mentors. The Kimchi Poetry Machine is powered by open-source electronic prototyping platforms such as Arduino and Adafruit.

When the jar is opened, poetry audibly flows from it 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 graphic design firm The Mystery Parade, are freely available to each person engaging with the poetry machine. 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. Each poem has at most 140 characters, and helps us rethink twitter as a poetic and participatory tool.

The Kimchi Poetry Machine debuted by invitation at the California Institute of Integral Studies MFA symposium, “From Trauma to Catharsis: Performing the Asian Avant Garde,” in August 2014. In early September, the machine demoed at the Berkeley Center for New Media, and in various public spaces in Los Angeles and San Francisco. In addition, the Kimchi Poetry Machine and her iterations will be exhibited in a forthcoming group show curated by Michelle Lee. Interested folks can check the blog for more updates on upcoming events. Additionally, a call for submissions will soon be released for the next batch of machine poems. All poets will be published at the Twitter handle @kimchipomachine, and selected poems will be included in the next batch in early April in time for this year’s AWP.

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


Many thanks to our wondrous Machine Poetas, who wrote poems on
the theme of womanhood, kimchi, and culture for the inaugural batch!


micha cárdenas
Sunyung Shin
Erin Adair-Hodges
Shelley Lee
Hyejung Kook
Terry Hong
Devi Laskar
Karen An-hwei Lee


SA Smythe


Machine Conceptualist & Editor: Margaret Rhee
Machine (Invention Lab) Mentor: Chris Meyers with Kevin Tian & Mark Oehlberg
Machine Graphic Designer: The Mystery Parade ::
Machine Media Consultant: Anna Kim

Thank you:

Chris Myers, Björn Hartmann, Maximilian Mark Medina, Michelle Lee,  Anna Kim, The Mystery Parade, Eric Paulos, Kevin Tian, Debbie Yee, Keely Hyslop, Mark Oehlberg, Sean Y Manzano, and Carolyn Cooke

Check out the full website at:

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