"...not just run-of-the-mill surrealism."
Lantern Review interviews Brenda Hillman on translating Choi Jeongrye's Instances
LR: Did you notice any particular differences in the cultural transformation of bringing a contemporary Korean poet to an American audience?
BH: There’s a bringing forth of a feminist, politically motivated and more populist poetry that speaks to everyday experience and that’s also considered more linguistically radical. I think she fits into that too. There’s an effort that might be in keeping with some of what has gone on in American avant-garde poetry, a continuance of the engagements with modernist fragmentary forms, and also with the psychological and with women’s issues.
She’s a very precise writer. I found it really interesting because I had two different experiences with translating in a span of two years. The first was with Poems from Above the Hill: Selected Poems of Asher Etwebi, a collection of work from a Libyan poet that I co-translated with Diallah Haidar. My experience with Jeongrye had to do more with discussions of how literal to be with the Korean because it’s really hard to be literal when the grammatical structures are so different, even in the way the sentence is maintained.