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Born in Seoul, South Korea, Don Mee Choi is the author of The Morning News Is Exciting (2010) and Hardly War (Wave Books). She has received a Whiting Award, Lannan Literary Fellowship, Lucien Stryk Translation Prize, and the 2019 DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Fellowship.

Autobiography of Death

New Directions Publishing
2019 Winner
United States

Judges’ Citation

In the grievous wake of the Sewol Ferry incident of 2014, the Korean poet Kim Hyesoon composed a cycle of forty-nine poems – one for each day the dead must await reincarnation – to produce a harrowing work of shock, outrage, and veneration for the children lost to this disaster.

In the grievous wake of the Sewol Ferry incident of 2014, the Korean poet Kim Hyesoon composed a cycle of forty-nine poems – one for each day the dead must await reincarnation – to produce a harrowing work of shock, outrage, and veneration for the children lost to this disaster. Through Don Mee Choi’s extraordinary translations, we hear the clamorous registers of Kim’s art – a transnational collision of shamanism, Modernism, and feminism – yield ‘a low note no one has ever sung before.’ That otherworldly tone may sound like life itself, the poet sings, ‘for even death can’t enter this deep inside me.