[Audio] Two Voices Salon with Don Mee Choi on Kim Hyesoon


We were very honored to host poet and translator Don Mee Choi in the Two Lines Press offices to discuss her work with Korean poet Kim Hysoon in a conversation with Two Lines Press’s Scott Esposito. The conversation centered around Choi’s latest translation of Kim’s work, Sorrowtoothpaste Mirrorcream, which was published in 2014 by Action Books, although it spanned the length of Choi’s involvement with Kim, which goes back to the early 2000s and the many translations they have collaborated on. The conversation included discussions of Action Books’ ideas of translation (epitomized in publisher Johannes Göransson and Joyelle McSweeney’s Deformation Zone), the aesthetic of the “gurlesque,” Kim as a feminist writer, and Kim’s overall stance vis a vis K Pop, the history of Korean literature, and international culture. Below you will find audio of this event and a table of contents.


0:00 Introductions

2:25 Where did you first discover Kim Hyesoon’s poetry?

4:35 The chellenges of first finding a publisher for Kim Hyesoon’s writing

6:25 Why was Action Books so interested in Kim Hyesoon based off of just two poems in Circumference?

8:10 The translation philosophy of Action Books, as represented by Johannes Göransson and Joyelle McSweeney

11:05 Kim Hyesoon as a poet that crosses national and generic boundaries

13:30 Kim Hyesoon compared to the Korean traditions of poetry, especially compared to the masculine traditions, and how contemporary issues creep in to her work, with reference to “I’m OK, I’m Pig”

16:30 Poems of Kim Hyesoon’s that have personally affected Don Mee Choi

19:25 Kim Hyesoon’s influence on Don Mee Choi’s poetry

21:25 The complexity of Kim Hyesoon’s poetry and the difficulty of interpreting it

24:30 How does Don Mee Choi translate when she doesn’t understand exactly what Kim Hyesoon means?

27:00 Does the poetry mutate as you translate it? (With bilingual example)

35:45 The “gurlesque” as it applies to Kim Hyesoon’s poetry

39:20 Kim Hyesoon as a feminist writer

41:30 Kim Hyesoon as contrasted against Korean culture at large, and the sorts of Korean literature that gets promoted by the government

46:50 audience Q & A

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