Don Mee Choi: Photo by Jay Weaver

Don Mee Choi

Born in Seoul, South Korea, Don Mee Choi is the author of the National Book Award winning collection DMZ Colony (Wave Books, 2020), Hardly War (Wave Books, 2016), The Morning News Is Exciting (Action Books, 2010), and several chapbooks and pamphlets of poems and essays. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, MacArthur Fellowship, Whiting Award, Lannan Literary Fellowship, Lucien Stryk Translation Prize, and DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Fellowship. She has translated several collections of Kim Hyesoon’s poetry, including Autobiography of Death (New Directions, 2018), which received the 2019 International Griffin Poetry Prize.

Autobiography of Death

Poetry by Kim Hyesoon

Translated by Don Mee Choi

The title section of Kim Hyesoon’s powerful new book, Autobiography of Death, consists of forty-nine poems, each poem representing a single day during which the spirit roams after death before it enters the cycle of reincarnation. The poems not only give voice to those who met unjust deaths during Korea’s violent contemporary history, but also unveil what Kim calls “the structure of death, that we remain living in.” Autobiography of Death, Kim’s most compelling work to date, at once reenacts trauma and narrates death—how we die and how we survive within this cyclical structure.…
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Questions of the agency and effects of death, in both individual and mass tragedies, are central to this extraordinary collective elegy from Kim…This is Choi’s sixth masterly translation of Kim, and it fully reveals the startling architecture Kim develops to display structural horrors, individual loss, and the links between them.
Publishers Weekly
Through Don Mee Choi’s extraordinary translations, we hear the clamorous registers of Hyesoon’s art—a transnational collision of shamanism, Modernism, and feminism—yield ‘a low note no one has ever sung before.’
Griffin Prize Judges Citation
< Margaret Jull Costa Olga Ravn >