Translator's notes

I Believe In This World


Kim Yideum is a wildly original and politically volatile poet. Her poems interrogate, appropriate and detour myths and sensationalistic accounts of gender and gendered violence. Loaded with outrageous images and fantastical acts, her poems are sonic spaces in which voices erupt, interrupt and disrupt, her speakers changing at such a speed that it seems wrong to even call them speakers. Such hyper-ventriloquism poses a challenge in translating Kim’s work; the Korean language does not defi ne subjects in the same way as English, making it even harder to sort out Kim’s polyphony. I met Kim a few years ago in Seoul and based on her unforgettable artistic presence, evident passion, and the three or four poems of hers that had been translated, I decided I had to get a volume of her work translated into English. Over the next couple of years I worked with Don Mee Choi and Ji yoon Lee to translate her poems. At one point, the Swedish poet Aase Berg helped us as well (when Kim and I read at the Stockholm Poetry Festival). Just as the poems are full of rapidly shifting voices, it seems the poems demand a multi-lingual, multi-gendered cast of translators.

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