Award Winners

Lucille Medwick Memorial Award - 2024

Cindy Juyoung Ok

Paying Old Hopes

Sandra Lim on Cindy Juyoung Ok

“Paying Old Hopes” proceeds by straightforward narration and comment, pressing down on a wild anguish all the while. Given the subject matter, there is a patient determination that becomes an ethic: there is no inclination to wit or irony, or the appeal of the exquisite image to alarm or impress the reader. In the language of compromise and watchful explanation, the poem expresses its anger and impatience with the ways in which vital matters of existence are sacrificed to an adult world that uses only the “metric of cost and value” and constant appraisal to maintain itself. “My pain could mean something later,” the speaker says, “maybe even a sign of my depth.” Instead of revelation, the plainer and larger aspiration of the poem is to expose the mind sorting its impressions and pursuing definitions.


Cindy Juyoung Ok
is the author of Ward Toward from the Yale Series of Younger Poets.