Hyesoon, Kim

Hyesoon, Kim (c) JJung Melmel

Kim Hyesoon, born in 1955 in Uljin, Kyŏngsangbuk-do, is South Korea’s most important poet. She has been publishing poetry since the late 1970s. In the meantime, she has produced an extensive body of work, for which she was awarded the prestigious Kim Su-yŏng Literature Prize in 1997 and the Ho Am Prize in 2022. In the USA, she gained greater fame through translations of the poet Don Mee Choi. The book “Autobiography of Death” (New Directions Publishing 2018) won the 2019 Griffin Poetry Prize. In German, the volume “Die Frau im Wolkenschloss” (Pendragon 2002 translation: Kim Young-Ok) is available.

Festival Content

POETRY TALK: Kim Hyesoon & Don Mee Choi & Sool Park & Uljana Wolf

A Ghost of Collectivity

Clubraum 7/5€ | Tickets


Kim Hyesoon (born 1955 in Uljin, Kyŏngsangbuk-do, South Korea) is one of the world’s most important poets, but remains comparatively under-read in Germany. Her books, often described as surreal, are books of the dead, too. With work at once comic, abysmal, and disturbing, Kim Hyesoon builds phantasmagorical, imagistic worlds – fever dreams, traversed by camels and other beings. These poems include mermaids who ponder their twin nature, stones that give birth to rocks which transform into dogs, and deities presiding over festering garbage dumps.

Hyesoon, KimChoi, Don MeeWolf, Uljana

2023 Berlin Poetry Lecture – Kim Hyesoon

Tongueless Mother Tongue

Kleines Parkett 6/4€ | Tickets


Kim Hyesoon‘s (born 1955 in Uljin, Kyŏngsangbuk-do, South Korea) poetry lecture begins by recollecting the last days of the Fourth Republic (1972-1979), a time of economic growth and state repression in South Korea, when she herself worked in publishing as an editor and repeatedly witnessed state censorship. Books were banned; individual passages considered offensive were blackened with coal tar; she even attended an entirely censored play, performed without text. From this experience – the tongue’s dying before actual death – she develops a poetics of her own writing in the sign of absence: Poets connect with their deaths, use ghost voices preceding language, are capable of absorbing other voices and sounds. In Kim Hyesoon’s poetry, this creates a rich register between silences, sighs, cries, and moans. And reading a poem means inhaling spirits, putting readers in a state of being possessed.


Hyesoon, Kim