The Korea Herald


Poet Kim Hye-soon's 'Phantom Pain Wings' shortlisted for 2 NBCC Awards

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : Jan. 26, 2024 - 11:42

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English edition of English edition of "Phantom Pain Wings" by Kim Hye-soon, translated by Don Mee Choi (New Directions Publishing)

The English translation of acclaimed poet Kim Hye-soon's poetry collection, “Phantom Pain Wings,” has been selected as a finalist in two categories -- poetry and translated literature -- at the National Book Critics Circle Awards in the US.

“Phantom Pain Wings,” translated by Don Mee Choi, was shortlisted along with four other finalists in the poetry category. Contenders include “All Souls” by Saskia Hamilton, “The Gathering of Bastards” by Romeo Oriogun, “Information Desk” by Robyn Schiff and “Trace Evidence” by Charif Shanahan. Kim's “Phantom Pain Wings” is the only translated work among the finalists.

In addition, “Phantom Pain Wings” was among six finalists for the 2023 NBCC’s Gregg Barrios Book in Translation Prize.

Two other Korean works -- Lee Seong-bok’s "Indeterminate Inflorescence” (translated by Anton Hur) and Keum Suk Gendry-Kim’s graphic novel “The Naked Tree” (translated by Janet Hong) -- were longlisted for the prize in December.

“Phantom Pain Wings,” which consists of 72 poems, was published in 2019 marking her 40th year in the literary scene.

The English version of the book was released in May last year. The English publisher said the book depicts “the memory of war trauma and the collective grief of parting through what (Kim) calls an ‘I-do-bird-sequence,’ where ‘Bird-human is the ‘I.’”

In 2019, Kim was the first Asian woman to win the 2019 award at Canada’s prestigious International Griffin Poetry Prize, with her "Autobiography of Death” (2016), also translated by Choi.

The NBCC, a nonprofit organization founded by book critics in New York in 1974, annually selects the best books written in English in five categories, including poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and biography.

Since 2023, NBCC also started to recognize artistic and literary value in translated works across all genres in English, at its Gregg Barrios Book in Translation Prize.

The winners, both author and translator, will be announced in March.