Poetry News

Action Books Curates Folio of Essays in Response to Poetry of Kim Hyesoon

By Harriet Staff


At the Asian American Writers' Workshop blog The Margins, Action Books's Joyelle McSweeney and Johannes Göransson have collected essays by several writers on Kim Hyesoon's poetry in Don Mee Choi's English translation. Here, they may find "a radical looking glass which reorients the world and recasts it in its true black light, a light opposite to capitalism’s, militarism’s, and neocolonialism’s white-lit screens," writes McSweeney. "Their reactions to Kim Hyesoon’s words are vivid, ethereal, poetry in itself."

Contributors include Geneva Chao, Carmen Giménez Smith, Kim Koga, Jake Levine, Janice Lee, Ji Yoon Lee, Francois Luong, Monica Mody, Heidi Lynn Staples, and Lisa A. Flowers. More from McSweeney's introduction:

This folio of essays for The Margins is a welcome chance to reflect on the resonances US-based poets experience when reading Kim Hyesoon through Don Mee Choi’s translations, and to recall that literature is not in fact the province of the individual but a zone of collaboration where it can be difficult to say where the artwork ends, or where it begins. Dislodged from the security of paternal power, Kim Hyesoon’s Princess Abandoned is a nomad, defined by the fact that she is always in transit; she forms by her motion the zone from which Art emerges. By assembling this array of voices, we hope to set in motion still more darkly radiant infernal emergencies we cannot yet apprehend. And it is our honor to be releasing at the same time as this folio a new Kim Hyesoon title in English—Poor Love Machine [Pulssanghan sarang kigye]. When this work was first published in 1997, Kim Hyesoon became the first female poet to win the prestigious Kim Su-yŏng prize for socially-engaged poetry. This major recognition, according to Don Mee Choi’s afterword, signaled a “major breakthrough and shift in the status of women’s poetry” in Korea; the parthenogenic emergence of Korean women poets in the 1980s could no longer be denied, even by a paternalistic poetry establishment. By returning to this watershed moment with the publication of Poor Love Machine in English, we hope to unleash a whole new flood of renovating, radical poetry-as-potential on new audiences, and to join it with subterranean surges and vivid upheavals already underway.

Be a new audience at The Margins.