This interview by H.L. Hix is one of a series, many of which will be collected in Alter Nation: America in Recent Poetry, Recent Poetry in America, from Ugly Duckling Presse (fall 2012). Hix loves the interview form as a way of thinking together (itself a condition of democracy, justice, philosophy, and other ideals and practices he values), and as one element in a community poetics. The subject of this interview with Don Mee Choi is her translation of Kim Hyesoon’s Mommy Must Be a Fountain of Feathers (Action Books, 2008).
H. L. Hix: The speaker in “Face” speculates that “Maybe I am the hostage of an absent being” (70). I suspect it’s always misleading to seize on one moment in a poem and seek in it some “message” about the whole poem or collection, but is there some meaningful sense in which one might take this as a characterization of the state all the poems resist, a figure for the “blackened space” your introduction identifies as the space in which all Koreans, but especially Korean women, live? Given the neocolonial relationship you note, in what ways would you expect American readers to find in the poems similarities with their own experience, and in what ways would you expect them to find contrasts to their own experience?
Don Mee Choi: I think it might be best for me to begin by saying something about Kim Hyesoon’s hell. Continue reading