Kim Hyesoon

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Kim Hyesoon
Kim Hyesoon in Frankfurt 2019
Kim Hyesoon in Frankfurt 2019
Born1955 (age 65–66)
OccupationPoet, professor
NationalityRepublic of Korea
Literary movementFeminism
Korean name
Revised RomanizationGim Hye-sun
McCune–ReischauerKim Hyesun

Kim Hyesoon (born 1955) (Korean김혜순) is a South Korean poet.


Kim Hyesoon was born in Uljin, Gyeongsangbuk-do. She received her Ph.D. in Korean Literature from Konkuk University and began as a poet in 1979 with the publication of Poet Smoking a Cigarette (Dambaereul piuneun siin) and four other poems in Literature and Intellect. Kim is an important contemporary poet in South Korea, and she lives in Seoul and teaches creative writing at the Seoul Institute of the Arts. Kim was in the forefront of women published in a literary journal, Munhak kwa jisŏng (Literature and Intellect).


Kim started to receive critical acclaim in the late 1990s and it is her own belief that her work was partly recognized because at that time there was a generally strong wave of women's poets and poetry.

Kim is the recipient of multiple literary prizes including the Kim Su-yŏng Literature Award (1996) for her poem, A Poor Love Machine, Sowol Poetry Literature Award (2000), and Midang Literature Award (2006), which are named after three renowned contemporary Korean poets. Kim was the first woman poet to receive the Kim Su-yŏng Literature Award, Midang Award, contemporary poetry award and Daesan Literary Award, Lee Hyoung-Gi Literary Award (2019), Griffin Poetry Prize (2019).

Kim's poetry collections include: From another star (1981), Father's scarecrow (1985), The Hell of a certain star (1987), Our negative picture (1991), My Upanishad, Seoul (1994), A Poor Love Machine (1997), To the Calendar Factory Manager (2000), A Glass of Red Mirror (2004), Your First (2008), and Sorrowtoothpaste Mirrorcream (2011)Blossom, Pig(2016) Autobiography of Death(2016), Wing Phantom Pain(2019).

Kim has participated in readings at poetry festivals all over the world: Smith College Poetry Center (2003), Taipei Poetry Festival (2008), 41st Poetry International Festival Rotterdam (2010), Poesie Festival Berlin (2011), Poetry Parnassus London (2012), Stockholm international Poetry Festival(2014), Hong Kong International Poetry nights(2015), Festival for World Literature Cologne (2018) The Center for Art of Translation (2019) Poetry Foundation (2019) AAWW (2019) Fokus Lylic – Festivalkongress, Frankfurt (2019), Mason de Ra Poesie Paris (2019), L Ecole normale Superieure (2019), St, John's College, Cambridge (2019), New Castle Poetry Festival (2019), Litteratur Huset Trondheim Norway (2019), Litteratur pa Bla, Oslo (2019), Terrapolis, Charlottenborg Copenhagen (2019), etc. Kim Hyesoon's Poetry was used for Jenny Holzer's exhibit at the Korean National Museum of Modern contemporary Art.

Kim's skill as a writer resides in her facility at combining poetic images with experimental language while simultaneously grounding her work in ‘feminine writing’ drawn from female experiences. Her language is violent and linguistically agile, appropriate for her topics which often center on death and/or injustice. A landmark feminist poet and critic in her native South Korea, Kim Hyesoon's surreal, dagger-sharp poetry has spread from hemisphere to hemisphere in the past ten years, her works translated to Chinese, Swedish, English, French, German, Dutch, and beyond. Kim Hyesoon raises a glass to the reader in the form of a series of riddles, poems conjuring the you inside the me, the night inside the day, the outside inside the inside, the ocean inside the tear. Kim's radical, paradoxical intimacies entail sites of pain as well as wonder, opening onto impossible—which is to say, visionary—vistas. Again and again, in these poems as across her career, Kim unlocks a horizon inside the vanishing point.

The birdlike Kim weaves a pattern of poems, so strangely compelling and curious, and utterly unlike anything I had heard before. —Sasha Dugdale

Works in English[edit]

  • A Drink of Red Mirror' 'Action Books ISBN 978-0900575808
  • The Autobiography of Death New Directions Publishing, translated by Don Mee Choi ISBN 978-0811227346 (the 2019 Griffin Poetry Prize)
  • Poor Love Machine Action Books ISBN 978-0-900575-75-4
  • I'm O.K, I'm Pig Bloodaxe Books ISBN 978-1-78037-102-3
  • Sorrowtoothpaste Mirrorcream Action Books ISBN 978-0-9898048-1-3
  • Mommy Must be a Fountain of Feathers Action Books ISBN 0979975514
  • Anxiety of Words (Collection with other authors) Zephyr Press ISBN 0939010879
  • All the Garbage of the World, Unite! Action Books ISBN 0983148015
  • When the Plug Gets Unplugged
  • Princess Abandoned (essays), (Tinfish, 2012)
  • Trilingual Renshi Vagabond Press ISBN 978-1-922181-44-2

Added to The &NOW Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing (&NOW Books, 2013)[1]

Works in Korean[edit]

  • From Another Star, Munhak kwa chisŏng sa, Seoul, 1981
  • Father's Scarecrow, Munhak kwa chisŏng sa, Seoul, 1985
  • The Hell of a Certain Star, Ch’ŏngha Seoul, 1988. Reprinted by Munhakdongnae, 1997
  • Our Negative Picture, Munhak kwa chisŏng sa, Seoul, 1991
  • My Upanishad, Seoul, Munhak kwa chisŏng sa, Seoul, 1994
  • A Poor Love Machine, Munhak kwa chisŏng sa, Seoul, 1997
  • To the Calendar Factory Manager, Munhak kwa chisŏng sa, Seoul, 2000
  • A Glass of Red Mirror, Munhak kwa chisŏng sa, Seoul, 2004
  • Your First, Munhak kwa chisŏng sa, Seoul, 2008
  • Sorrowtoothpaste Mirrorcream, Munhak kwa chisŏng sa, Seoul 2011
  • Blossom, Pig, Munhak kwa chisŏng sa, Seoul 2016
  • The Autobiography of Death, Munhaksilheomsil, Seoul 2016
  • Phantom Pain of wings, Munhak kwa chisŏng sa, Seoul 2019


  • To Write as a Woman: Lover, Patient, Poet, and You (Seoul: Munhakdongnae, 2002) - Essay on Poetry
  • Thus Spoke No (Poessay) (Seoul: Munhakdongane, 2016)
  • Women, Do Poetry (Seoul: Munhak kwa chisŏng sa, 2017)
  • Do Womananimalasia (Seoul: Munhak kwa chisŏng sa, 2019)


Williams, Ruth (2010). ""Female Poet" as Revolutionary Grotesque: Feminist Transgression in the Poetry of Ch'oe Sŭng-ja, Kim Hyesoon, and Yi Yŏn-ju". Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature. 29 (2): 395–415.


  • Kim Suyoung Award (1997)
  • Sowol Poetry Award (2000)
  • Contemporary Poetry Award (2000)
  • Korea Culture and Arts Foundation 'This Year's' Art Prize (2004)
  • Daesan Poetry Award (2008)
  • Lee Hyoung-Gi Literary Award (2019)
  • Korea Culture & Art Prize (2019)
  • Griffin Poetry Prize(2019)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Schneiderman, Davis (2012). The &NOW Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing. ISBN 978-0982315644.

External links[edit]