France Catches Kim Hyesoon Fever

by on Jun.29, 2012

Here’s an article about a recent Kim Hyesoon reading in Paris, as well as some stuff about the translation of her work into French.


“As I continue to be exposed to Korean poetry, I think to myself that it is very possible that my own style of writing will change,” said celebrated French poet and philosopher Michel DeGuy, who attended all four of the readings. On the June 6 reading at the Korean Cultural Center in Paris, DeGuy surprised the audience by delivering an impromptu mini-lecture on poetry as an important vehicle for rich cultural exchange between Korea and France.

“We [French poets] may have known Korea, but we did not know the Koreans,” asserted DeGuy. “Korean poetry is a world of uncharted depths, and now this world has been opened up to the French people. Our communion has begun.”

Kim Hyesoon is (as I wrote in the previous post) reading with Nobel laureates Seamus Heaney and Wole Soyinka tonight in London. She’s been reading in a bunch of places around Europe and her work is being published around Europe (I know the Scandinavians were early fans). The fact that a lot of these translators and reading organizers came across her work in the Action Books titles (Mommy Must be a Fountain of Feathers and All the Garbage of the World, Unite!) is incredibly satisfying and makes me very proud.

I think it’s totally expected that a lot of the most vital, important poetry is being written in a seemingly provincial, marginal country like the “neo-colony” of South Korea. The most interesting work tends to pop up in the peripheries. Though in many cases, it doesn’t get translated, or the translation don’t get published in the US.

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