The structure of death, that we remain living in: Kim Hyesoon, Don Mee Choi, Forrest Gander, and Brenda Hillman
Green Apple Books on the Park | 1231 9th Avenue | San Francisco, CA
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 (starred review)
Kim is a singular poet in Korea, just as she is in America, but we can only fully appreciate this when we see that, for her, violence is not the end but a means.
The title section of Kim Hyesoon’s powerful new book, Autobiography of Death (New Directions), 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. In this sea of mirrors, the plural “you” speaks as a body of multitudes that has been beaten, bombed, and buried many times over by history. The volume concludes on the other side of the mirror with “Face of Rhythm,” a poem about individual pain, illness, and meditation.
Kim Hyesoon and Don Mee Choi join us to talk about reenacting trauma and narrating death in Kim Hyesoon’s powerful new book, Autobiography of Death, translated by Don Mee Choi. Special guests Forrest Gander and Brenda Hillman will also treat us to a reading of their poems and translations.