Princess Abandoned

Kim Hyesoon is one of the most important contemporary poets in South Korea. She lives in Seoul and teaches creative writing at the Seoul Institute of the Arts. Kim began publishing in 1979 and began receiving critical recognition in the late 1990s. She writes in the context of Korea's highly patriarchal society, a nation that is still under neocolonial rule by the U.S.

Don Mee Choi is the author of The Morning News is Exciting (Action Books, 2010). She translated When the Plug Gets Unplugged (Tinfish, 2005), as well as other books by Kim Hyesoon. She lives and works in Seattle.


Princess Abandoned
Essays by Kim Hyesoon • Translated by Don Mee Choi • February 2012 • $3 • [out of print]
Design by Eric Butler

Tinfish’s eleventh Retro Chapbook presents three brief essays by prominent Korean feminist poet, Kim Hyesoon. These essays are about being a woman poet in a patriarchal society. But they are not about the everyday struggles of the poet; instead, they engage issues of femininity and inspiration by way of shaman songs and heroine myths. And so “it becomes possible to explain why the women-poets of South Korea enjoy overlapping the space of the real with the space of illusions.”

from “Poetry of Hearing (–what is femininity?)”:

The performer cannot develop her body and soul, her life as the performer of the Abandoned, without making contact with ghosts. The performer exists as a twin-like being, who is intertwined with death, the death she was able to name through her active participation in it, and she uses this ability to visit back and forth with the death everyone harbors. She attains her ability as a performer of death through her own life’s suffering, the naming of her suffering which is like death . . . making contact with her own spirit allows her to communicate with other spirits through the bodies of the others and enables her to guide the spirits of the dead to a safe place (?) in the netherworld at the request of her regulars.


Read an interview with Kim Hyesoon at The Rumpus and another interview with Kim at the Poetry Foundation.

Read Tinfish Editor Susan Schultz’s commentary on Kim’s work in Jacket2.

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