2023 Berlin Poetry Lecture – Kim Hyesoon

Tongueless Mother Tongue

2023-06-11, 7:30 PM

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.


Kim Hyesoon will deliver the speech in Korean.

“Tongueless Mother Tongue” will be published at the event in Korean, German (translated by Simone Kornappel), and English (translated by Helen Cho) by Wallstein Verlag (13,90€). Deutschlandfunk Kultur will broadcast a recording of the speech.

Project management: Matthias Kniep

Koreanisches Kulturzentrum. The 24th poesiefestival berlin is a project of Haus für Poesie in cooperation with Akademie der Künste and is supported by Hauptstadtkulturfonds.