Image by John Kazior

Poetry Privilege of Bleeding

Kim Hyesoon


A child humiliated by their friend came and talked to n’t.
Please take me to a hospital.
But n’t told the child to go back and take revenge.
And the child said,
I am bleeding inside my head. Please take me to a hospital.
Everyone bleeds inside their heads! answered n’t.
Underneath pure white quilt between pure white walls,
Exercising the privilege of bleeding,
A child lay still wanting to take revenge against their friend, and lying beside the child
n’t imagined a revenge that dug into grave’s embrace.
She imagined taking revenge and exercising the privilege of eternal disappearance.
n’t asked the child.
Whatcha doin’?
Me too.

Translated from the Korean by Jack Jung

Translator’s Note: This 시산문 (shisanmun, or “poetry prose”) is from Kim Hyesoon’s collection Thus Spoke n’t, which follows a persona named n’t. This is my English translation of 않아 (ahn-ah), a particle that negates the whole sentence whenever it is added in.

Kim Hyesoon is a South Korean poet and a feminist thinker. Her twelfth book of poetry, Autobiography of Death (2018), translated by Don Mee Choi, was the winner of the Griffin International Poetry Prize.
Jack Jung is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was a Truman Capote fellow. He is a co-translator of Yi Sang: Selected Works (2020), the winner of the 2020 MLA Prize for a Translation of a Literary Work. He currently teaches at Davidson College.