Kim Hyesoon

Born in Ulijin, South Korea, Kim Hyesoon (1955-) received her PhD in Korean Literature from Konkuk University, and began as a poet in 1979 with the publication of Poet Smoking a Cigarette. She began to receive critical acclaim in the late 1990s and she attributes this to the strong wave of interest in poetry by woman poets; currently she is one of South Korea’s most important contemporary poets, and she now lives and teaches in Seoul. Her poetry aims to strive for a freedom from form, by experimenting with language focusing on the sensual - often female - body, in direct opposition to male-dominated lyrical poetry. ‘They are direct, deliberately grotesque, theatrical, unsettling, excessive, visceral and somatic. This is feminist surrealism loaded with shifting, playful linguistics that both defile and defy traditional roles for women.’ Having published more than ten poetry collections, a number of these have been translated into English recently: When the Plug Gets Unplugged (2005); Mommy Must be a Fountain of Feathers (2008); All the Garbage of the World, Unite! (2011); Sorrowtoothpaste Mirrorcream (2014) and I’m O.K., I’m Pig (2014). Tinfish has also published a small chapbook of three essays entitled Princess Abandoned (2012). Throughout her career she has gained nearly all of South Korea’s most prestigious literary awards, named after the country’s greatest poets, such as Kim Su-yông Literature Award (1997), the Sowol Poetry Literature Award (2000) and the Midang Literature Award (2006). She was also the first female to win the Daesan Literary Award in 2008.


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