When I take a walk on the bridge with my dead cat in my arms, people say
strange things to me. They show unprecedented interest; they must feel certain
urges at the sight of a dead thing.
When I approach, mirrors crack and coats rip. Beds fall apart, and bookcases
topple. When I approach, motorcycles fall over, canned meat cracks, and plastic
bags fly away. Cement becomes rice pudding, the sun hides in the river’s womb.
When I approach, things run away.
A writer has his hands deep in his pockets, pulling out his machine guns
and rifles. Now the four-eyes who wears glasses without lenses is aiming straight
into my pupil. The guy with prosthetic legs pretends to want to shake my hand
but trips me instead. I am strangled by his neckties. And I know that the guy
dozing off on the bench, next to the dog, is wiretapping me, tailing me. These
guys are all plotting to make love to my dead body.
A knife sweeps the guts off the cutting board, and people push me off the
bridge. They blackmail me about the emails I sent about whether or not to
show the black and white 166mm film I shot at my sister’s apartment. How
could a film be such a threat to those who only eat things that are safely dead,
who put spotlights on the dead and make special features, people with such
~ Kim Yideum, trans. from Korean by Ji Yoon Lee, Don Mee Choi and Johannes Göransson
Kim Yideum (1969 – present) is a good example of Korean women’s poetry burgeoning after a period of taboos and stereotyping of women’s bodies and poetic diction. Influenced by feminist writers such as Sylvia Plath and Kim Hyesoon, and avant-garde writer Yi Sang, Kim Yideum writes confessional and surreal poetry, breaks out of the box of contemporary Korean society, brings out its shadows, its margins, its abandoned and dead. She also touches upon the themes of media, society, and the individual, and even Korean poetry as an institution.
Don Mee Choi is the author of ‘Hardly War’ (Wave Books, 2016) and ‘The Morning News Is Exciting’ (Action Books, 2010), and a translator of contemporary Korean women poets. Her most recent translation is Kim Hyesoon’s ‘Poor Love Machine’ (Action Books, 2016).
Johannes Göransson is the author of six books, including most recently ‘The Sugar Book’ (Tarpaulin Sky Press, 2015), and has translated a number of poets from Swedish to English. He has also written criticism about translation theory, and is currently working on a book on the subject. Born outside of Lund, Sweden, Göransson has lived in the U.S. for many years, and currently teaches at the University of Notre Dame. Together with Joyelle McSweeney, he edits Action Books.
Ji Yoon Lee is the author of ‘Foreigner’s Folly’ (Coconut Books, 2014), ‘Funsize/Bitesize’ (Birds of Lace, 2013), and ‘IMMA’ (Radioactive Moat, 2012). She is the winner of the Joanna Cargill prize (2014), and her manuscript was a finalist for the 1913 First Book Prize (2012).She was born in South Korea and came to the United States as a teen. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Notre Dame.
This translation of ‘Fluxfilm No.4 (Lesbian)’ originally appeared in ‘Cheer Up, Femme Fatale’ (Action Books, 2016). The editors wish to thank Action Books for generously granting permission to republish the translation here.