This evening is devoted to the incendiary magic that arises when one brilliant poet translates another. For over a decade, poet Don Mee Choi (National Book Award winner, Guggenheim and MacArthur fellow) has been translating the fiercely iconoclastic and radically feminist poetry of Kim Hyesoon (Daesan Literary Award, Griffin Poetry Prize), one of the foremost poets of South Korea. The two will read from their works and speak about their writing and collaboration with Literary Translation at Columbia (LTAC) Director Susan Bernofsky.
Kim, Hyesoon is one of the most prominent and influential contemporary poets of South Korea. Her poems first appeared in Literature and Intellect (Munhak kwa jiseong), one of the two leading journals that led the intellectual and literary movement against the U.S. backed military dictatorships. Kim came into prominence from the late 1990s and was the first woman poet to receive the prestigious Kim Su-yong and Midang awards. Kim recently received the 2019 International Griffin Poetry Prize for Autobiography of Death (New Directions, 2018), the 2021 Cikada Prize, and the Samsung Ho-Am Prize in 2022. Kim’s profile appeared in The New Yorker in which she was quoted saying: “Feminism isn’t something you’re born believing. Feminism is going through life and changing yourself.” Kim’s poems in translation have appeared in various publications such as the Poetry Foundation, The New York Times, The Nation, The European Review, Guernica, and Boston Review. Her poetry has been translated into Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Spanish, Danish, and Swedish. Kim is a professor emeritus of Seoul Institute of the Arts. She lives in Seoul with her husband Lee, Kang-Baek, a renowned playwright, and her artist daughter Lee, Fi Jae. Kim’s fourteenth book of poetry After Earth Dies, Who Will Moon Orbit? was published last year.
Born in Seoul, South Korea, Don Mee Choi is the author of DMZ Colony (Wave Books, 2020), which received the 2020 National Book Award for Poetry. Her work also includes Hardly War (Wave Books, 2016), The Morning News Is Exciting (Action Books, 2010) and several chapbooks and pamphlets of poems and essays. She is a recipient of fellowships from MacArthur, Guggenheim, Lannan, and Whiting Foundations. She was a fellow of the 2019 DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program and 2021 Guest Picador Professor-Leipzig University. During her stay in Berlin, Choi had an art installation at daadgalerie: DMZ Colony: Exhibition of a Book. She has translated several collections of Kim Hyesoon’s poetry: Anxiety of Words (Zephyr, 2006), Mommy Must Be a Fountain of Feathers (Action Books, 2008), All the Garbage of the World, Unite! (Action Books, 2011), I’m OK, I’m Pig! (Bloodaxe Books, 2014) and others, including the 2019 International Poetry Prize winning book Autobiography of Death (New Directions, 2018) and most recently, Phantom Pain Wings (New Directions, 2023). After working in Seattle for a couple of decades, Choi now lives in Berlin with her husband Jay Weaver, a musician and schoolteacher. Her forthcoming book is Mirror Nation (Wave Books, April 2024).
Promotional support provided by The Korea Society.