Saturday, April 04, 2009

Poem: Kimiko Hahn

Kimiko HahnSomehow or another over the years I've been posting poems, I've missed out posting a poem by poet Kimiko Hahn (1955-, at right,, whose name I heard for years and then, back in 1998, I finally got to hear her read, at the old Dia Center for the Art's great series in Chelsea (before that neighborhood turned into an art-and-commerce orangerie and Dia headed for the hills of Beacon, New York), and that was even more of a spur to read her poems, which I've been doing ever since. She's published a number of books, including most recently The Narrow Road to the Interior (W. W. Norton, 2008), which approximates a lyric notebook, mixing themes and genres, including the traditional prose poetic Japanese form (she is half-Japanese American), the zuihitsu, which she had used in earlier books, to create an often surprising, open-form work. Here's one of her poems that not only appeared on the Dia Center's poetry site and but also was printed as a broadside, which I can no longer find. I don't think I got her to autograph it. (I thought the Dia Center had begun to create audio files for all of its readings, but as far as I can tell that effort has ended.) Nevertheless, the poem speaks for itself. You can find a fairly recent interview (from Bomb), with Kimiko Hahn here.

In Childhood

things don't die or remain damaged
but return: stumps grow back hands,
a head reconnects to a neck,
a whole corpse rises blushing and newly elastic.
Later this vision is not True:
the grandmother remains dead
not hibernating in a wolf's belly.
Or the blue parakeet does not return
from the little grave in the fern garden
though one may wake in the morning
thinking mother's call is the bird.
Or maybe the bird is with grandmother
inside light. Or grandmother was the bird
and is now the dog
gnawing on the chair leg.
Where do the gone things go
when the child is old enough
to walk herself to school,
her playmates already
pumping so high the swing hiccups?

Copyright © Kimiko Hahn, 1998, all rights reserved.

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