• Book
  • English(English)

이별의 능력



    Title: Capacity of Break-ups

    Author: Kim Haengsook

    Genre: Poetry


    LTI Korea staff: Alex Baek ( / +82-2-6919-7741)


  • About the book


    Poet Kim Haengsook’s second collection, Capacity of Break-ups, contains 72 poems which were previously published in various literary magazines from 2003 to 2007. The poet charms readers in a calm and vivid voice­­– balancing on uneasy sentiments that lie between borders of emotion­­­– to “love simulacrum.” Here simulacrum is a moment in everyday life that has no self-identity, an instantaneity, and a look discovered by chance. These provide ‘communal sentiments’ that can be shared with others. Capacity of Break-ups is an effort to find, even if briefly, a possibility of unity with others.


    Since her literary debut, Kim Haengsook has experimented powerful poetic styles and Capacity of Break-ups is considered to have shown the significance of her writing; she is a poet with a program not intuition and has a talent which not only allows herself enter a world of specific sentiments but also invites readers into that world.


    In these poems, her voice goes beyond the boundaries it creates. Thus, her style has been described as centrifugal, liquid language that slide through cross-hatches over the signifier and the signified. Her poems cannot be pinned down to one meaning. Readers are apt to be puzzled while reading her poems but that perplexity is one of the responses her poems welcome. She decomposes and dismantles “world” and “self” into fragmented sentiments; after all, her poems are non-existent worlds sung by the non-existent.


    Is your profile half of you / the same eye/ the same nose / something that is frozen / something that melts and burns on the fire / Like chunks of meat put in the freezer and in the frying pan / From where to where / Upon where, will it be extended to? / My imagination struggles stretching its edges / When I dream arms that bend the same way, / I'm scared! / Like unborn sisters and brothers / The arms grow in dreams and in dust


    “The Profile”


    In "The Profile" the objects and situations are not symbols, nor based on realistic expressions. The purpose of her poems seems to be in delivering a specific feeling, and one of the critics explained it as “simulacrum.” Furthermore, what makes her poems extraordinary are delicate senses which capture the objects as simulacrum, and methodological lightness which turns things into simulacrum. “Poems which wish to infinitely be trivial and purely dedicated to the amorphous.” —that is the beauty in her poems and also the key to enjoying them. Many critics who commented on this collection share a similar impression. Their responses, such as "anarchism in sense" or "Breaking-up with the face" imply her work's versatility in creating significant and multiple meanings.


    On one hand, this collection might as well have been named "Capacity of Love." Love can be a rare event that happens in a world of feelings, a miracle exchange, and a brief moment between two beings . Capacity of Break-ups presents a "community of feelings." It can only be consisted of lovers; thus, love is a kind of ability. Poet Kim Haengsook 's poems prove it to be true. It is not necessary to make an effort to find significance in her poems. What we should do is to look at the mosaic feelings that her poems embrace. We become a member of the community of feelings when we read her poetry. This is what love can do. 


    About the author


    Poet Kim Haengsook made her literary debut in 1999 in Contemporary Literature. She is one of the prominent poets in Korea and the winner of the Nojak Literary Award(2009) and the Chun Bong-Gun Literary Award (2015). She is the iconic poet who broke with the lyrical tradition which dominated Korean literature, and focused on new poetic styles such as 2000s' “New waves.”  It is not unfair to say that the history of her poetry is all about risky adventures toward “others.” Her first collection, Adolescence (2003), presented a complete new angle of lyricism and became a syndrome of contemporary poetry. It showed that writing poetry means to stay within the borderline of adolescence, far away from ethics. She has been much loved both by critics and readers since her first collection, which was categorized as “Futurism” alongside poets such as Hwang Byung-sueng, Kim Kyoung-ju, Kim Min-jeong, and Ha Jae-yoen, whose first collections were also published then. The “Futurism” led a change in Korean modern literature presenting unfamiliar, ambiguous poems, which defied the classical methods. Her second collection, Capacity of Break-ups, proved that she is a poet with a program not intuition and has a talent which not only allows herself enter a world of specific sentiments but also invites readers into that world.


    The Significance of Others (2010, Minumsa), marks a shift from an attentiveness to dismantling the world and self into mosaic feelings into an interest in the relationship between self and other. The Portrait of Echoes (2015, Moonji), her most recent collection embraces the fate of echoes, and the portrait of a poetic self is an unseen figure who repeats someone else's. Being echoes of external worlds, the poetic self re-lives others’ suffering as its own. 


    About the translators


    Kim Lei received her B.A. in creative writing from Chung-Ang University. She worked as an editor for the quarterly magazine of Asian literature(ASIA). She translated Lee Jang-wook’s poetry collection, Request Line at Noon (codhill press, 2016) with the grants from the Literature Translation Institute of Korea, and received the Modern Korean Literature Translation Commendation Prize in 2014.


    Media Response/Awards Received


    If anyone considers her poetry is convoluted, that's because the world we take for granted is too narrow. If anyone thinks her poetry is puzzling, that's because the selves we feel is too stereotyped. Her poems have furtive suggestions and vivid charms for us who live in a such small world. "Love simulacrum," is her absolute order. This is not what poetry can also do but is what only poetry can do.

    -Critic Shin Hyung-chul

    Poet Kim Haengsook 's poems contain a rare event which occur in a world of feelings,

    a miracle relationship between different feelings, vivid yet invisible, and a brief moment in which two beings meet each other within a certain feeling.

    -Yonhap News Agency

    Her poetry seems complicated but it is, in a sense, an outcome of pure concentration at wielding live words.

     -Weekly Hankook


    The world her poetry presents is a kind of the sea of senses, prior to the transcendental cognition. The sea is the poet and vice versa. It is beyond the poetic skill, empathy. It can be seen as an equation between self and other, between self and world, and between self and sea.

    -Busan Daily News


Translated Books (2)

News from Abroad (1)