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Kim Hyun, 𝘎𝘭𝘰𝘳𝘺 𝘏𝘰𝘭𝘦 (Translated from the Korean by Suhyun J. Ahn and Archana Madhavan)
Featuring gay teens, elders, cats, caterpillars, robots, and other unexpected characters, Kim’s fifty-one eccentric poems trace themes of love, sexual desire, abandonment, destitution, and death. In recounting the splendid yet tragic journeys of his speakers, Kim defies meaningful sense-making. His poems are a mishmash of dystopian sci-fi and pornography, storytelling and poetry, fictive references, and real figures. They are not embellished with elegant imagery; in fact, they are antithetical to it, opting instead for incoherent tense, unidiomatic expressions, and never-ending puns. After all, like LGBTQ+ people in many cultures, Korean queers live in this site of violence. Bewilderment, deliberately, is Kim Hyun’s form. All the "notes" are the author's own, even when attributed to others. 𝘎𝘭𝘰𝘳𝘺 𝘏𝘰𝘭𝘦 invites readers into a very queer world.
South Korean author Kim Hyun debuted as a poet in 2009 when his five poems including ‘Blow Job’ were featured in the quarterly 𝘑𝘢𝘬𝘬𝘢 𝘚𝘦𝘨𝘺𝘦. Since then, Kim has published several poetry and essay collections. He has also co-authored a feminist novel collection 𝘝𝘪𝘴𝘪𝘵𝘰𝘳𝘴 𝘢𝘵 𝘋𝘢𝘸𝘯, a queer novel collection 𝘓𝘪𝘧𝘦 𝘐𝘴 𝘈𝘭𝘸𝘢𝘺𝘴 𝘰𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘉𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘬 𝘰𝘧 𝘊𝘰𝘭𝘭𝘢𝘱𝘴𝘪𝘯𝘨, and the young adult queer anthology, 𝘚𝘰 𝘞𝘦 𝘓𝘰𝘷𝘦. Kim has received the Shin Dong-yup Prize for Literature and Kim Jun-seong Literary Award.View playlist
Eyes and Ears, Look for Vanished WordsReaders, this is from fifteen days ago. I went out hearing a ghost’s gibberish in my sleep, and there, a frozen blonde girl was growing old without a sound. She moved her mouth noiselessly, Mister, I’m on my way to silence. Can you let me have a sip of words? For some reason, I wasn’t surprised and invited the hunchbacked girl into my mouth and pressed a bowl of words and a berry of adverbs into her hand, telling her to drop by whenever she passes through. The girl, who grew even older in that moment, cried as she departed and said, Thank you, Mister. I just want to tell you, if a beautiful girl who looks like neither a human nor a ghost comes to you tomorrow at this hour and asks you to lend her words, tell her to go check another house because you ran out. Please, please do so. While listening to the story of the girl who had aged suddenly, I summoned back my half-gone spirit, and found myself to be asleep. The girl was nowhere to be seen, and the bowl of missing words and the seeds of adverbs were watching me blankly. Suddenly, I recalled a few light words that didn’t exist. I fished them out and recited the words that I’d recalled and sailed into the vast sea of sleep. A few moments later, I finished reciting them and opened my eyes. The dreams were gone and the words had stopped existing again, and three and a half days had passed. I was hungry. So I came out of my mouth. I was determined to buy paper and a brush. Come to think of it, that was long ago. I strolled past the salivary glands. To my delight, Lord Nikolai, (2) who had eleven children by different wives and had yet another child in yet another woman’s belly; and old man Lai O Ming, (3) who had twelve wives; and Karlos (4) the bachelor, who had tied the knot twice with six wives, had all lost their words and had set out their big bats and were haphazardly wandering around the glands like mute ghosts. At that time, there happened to be a reckless madam (5) among the ghosts, so I opened my mouth, and she grumbled without saying a word. Look at this person growing old. What’s the big deal about a living person losing words? I’ve lost my words. It wasn’t that I didn’t know anything about silence. Silence had been turning over in my mouth for a long time. But no matter how I tried, I couldn’t forget the blonde girl or blondie’s story, so I bought paper and a brush and aimlessly did whatever, until I ended up writing you a letter, readers. I’d like you to come by any time, it doesn’t matter when. Just signal your presence, and I’ll comfort the silent ghosts and send them to you as soon as tomorrow night, so please come with them in fifteen nights. Look into their situation on the sly. For the time being, I’ll try to make a list of the sunken words. Who knows—this might be the key to solving the case of the missing words. / /