Kim Hyesoon with translator Don Mee Choi & Elizabeth Willis and Nancy Bowen

“A witch makes her words of air, then fire, then the planets. Of cardboard, then ink, then a compass,” writes Elizabeth Willis. Such elemental, alchemical words fly, shimmer, and burn in new books by Kim Hyesoon (trans. by Don Mee Choi) and Willis (with images by Nancy Bowen) in the language(s) of memory and forgetting, of wind and birds.

Nancy Bowen is a mixed media artist known for her eclectic mixtures of imagery and materials in both two and three dimensions. Bowen has shown widely in the United States and Europe, and she recently received an Anonymous Was a Woman award. She is currently a Professor of Sculpture at Purchase College, S.U.N.Y. She maintains a studio in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Born in Seoul, South Korea, Don Mee Choi is the author of DMZ Colony (Wave Books, 2020), which received the 2020 National Book Award for Poetry. Her work also includes Hardly War (Wave Books, 2016), The Morning News Is Exciting (Action Books, 2010) and several chapbooks and pamphlets of poems and essays. She is a recipient of fellowships from MacArthur, Guggenheim, Lannan, and Whiting Foundations. She was a fellow of the 2019 DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program and 2021 Guest Picador Professor-Leipzig University. During her stay in Berlin, Choi had an art installation at daadgalerie: DMZ Colony: Exhibition of a Book. She has translated several collections of Kim Hyesoon’s poetry: Anxiety of Words (Zephyr, 2006), Mommy Must Be a Fountain of Feathers (Action Books, 2008), All the Garbage of the World, Unite! (Action Books, 2011), I’m OK, I’m Pig! (Bloodaxe Books, 2014) and others, including the 2019 International Poetry Prize winning book Autobiography of Death (New Directions, 2018) and most recently, Phantom Pain Wings (New Directions, 2023). After working in Seattle for a couple of decades, Choi now lives in Berlin with her husband Jay Weaver, a musician and schoolteacher. Her forthcoming book is Mirror Nation (Wave Books, April 2024).

Kim Hyesoon is one of the most prominent and influential contemporary poets of South Korea. Her poems first appeared in Literature and Intellect (Munhak kwa jiseong), one of the two leading journals that led the intellectual and literary movement against the U.S. backed military dictatorships. Kim came into prominence from the late 1990s and was the first woman poet to receive the prestigious Kim Su-yong and Midang awards. Kim recently received the 2019 International Griffin Poetry Prize for Autobiography of Death (New Directions, 2018), the 2021 Cikada Prize, and the Samsung Ho-Am Prize in 2022. Kim’s profile appeared in The New Yorker in which she was quoted saying: “Feminism isn’t something you’re born believing. Feminism is going through life and changing yourself.” Kim’s poems in translation have appeared in various publications such as the Poetry FoundationThe New York TimesThe NationThe European ReviewGuernica, and Boston Review. Her poetry has been translated into Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Spanish, Danish, and Swedish. Kim is a professor emeritus of Seoul Institute of the Arts. She lives in Seoul with her husband Lee, Kang-Baek, a renowned playwright, and her artist daughter Lee, Fi Jae. Kim’s fourteenth book of poetry After Earth Dies, Who Will Moon Orbit? was published last year.

Elizabeth Willis is the author of Alive (New York Review Books, 2015), a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Address (Wesleyan, 2011); Meteoric Flowers (Wesleyan, 2007); Turneresque (Burning Deck, 2003); and The Human Abstract (Penguin, 1995). She also writes about the intersection of art and labor and edited the volume Radical Vernacular: Lorine Niedecker and the Poetics of Place. A new book of poems and prose is forthcoming next year, and a collection of essays is in the works. She teaches at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.