The poetry of KIM Hyesoon 김혜순 (金惠順), according to her translator Don Mee Choi,
goes beyond the expectations of established aesthetics and traditional “female poetry” (yŏryusi), which is characterised by its passive, refined language. In her experimental work she explores women’s multiple and simultaneous existence as grandmothers, mothers, and daughters in the context of Korea’s highly patriarchal society, a nation that is still under neo-colonial rule by the US. Kim’s poetics are rooted in her attempt to resist conventional literary forms and language long defined by men in Korea. According to Kim, “women poets oppose and resist their conditions, using unconventional forms of language because their resistance has led them to a language that is unreal, surreal, and even fantastical. The language of women’s poetry is internal, yet defiant and revolutionary.”
From the book of the same title, translated by Don Mee Choi (Action Books, 2012)
On the seat you left, two beer bottles, a cigarette butt, two pieces of scratch paper.
Why are you screening my calls, my messages? Don’t you have anything else to do?
You are the bourgeoisie of communication. Why am I always afraid of the phone?
When you look at me, I always feel as if I should change into something else.
How about changing myself into a bundle of clothes dumped on the sofa
or a pale pink wad of bubble gum dangling from someone’s lips
like the poor tummies of all the animals that flail about when they are turned over?
Do you know?
Eyesnavel god. Forearmsearflap god.
Sweetpotatokneesappleseed god. Pigstoenailschick god.
Dreamingdivingbeetlesashtree god. Lovelygirlsheelstoenail god.
Antsghostscatseyeball god. Ratholescatsrottingwater god.
Mrsdustingarmselephant god. Salivadropexplodeslikefreongas.
Do you know all the dearest gods that are hanging onto our limbs?
On the seat you left, a wet towel, a wad of gum, a crushed tomato.
Dear blackgarbagebags who thankfully lent each one of their bodies.
Dear foldedarms of the window and concrete and steel under my feet.
How high the armsofthemachinehammers that beat down steadily upon
All the pigs of the world unite god. All the cats of the world let’s become a butter god.
Dear wrists escape from the arms god. Heap of curses, mackerel corpses spit out from a soccer player’s mouth god. There are 3 million gods in India. How many people live there?
Dearest multiple gods that have swarmed in from the sky, land, sea.
On the seat you left, I sit like a garbage god, and do you or don’t you know
that I wait for the green truck heading to the landfill like the dearest dirtiest loftiest god
who has long endured till now because of its hunger for humans?
Do you or don’t you know that every day our hair falls and mixes with the melting water of an iceberg in the faraway sea?
In honor of National Poetry Month