Kimiko Hahn

Winner of the 2007 Shelley Memorial Award

In Childhood


things don't die or remain damaged
but return: stumps grow back hands,
a head reconnects to a neck,
a whole corpse rises blushing and newly elastic.
Later this vision is not True:
the grandmother remains dead
not hibernating in a wolf's belly.
Or the blue parakeet does not return
from the little grave in the fern garden
though one may wake in the morning
thinking mother's call is the bird.
Or maybe the bird is with grandmother
inside light. Or grandmother was the bird
and is now the dog
gnawing on the chair leg.
Where do the gone things go
when the child is old enough
to walk herself to school,
her playmates already
pumping so high the swing hiccups?

* * *

"In Childhood" from The Artist's Daughter. Copyright 2002 by Kimiko Hahn. Reprinted with the permission of the author.


George Stanley and Major Jackson and Maurya Simon on Kimiko Hahn

We find Kimiko Hahn's work virtuosic, both in terms of its experimentation with traditional (or contemporary) Western and Asian verse forms (and especially her brilliant use of the Japanese zuihitsu, and her deft and affecting hybridizations of various formal and free verse structures), and in terms of her delving explicitly into, and exploring evocatively, a number of crucial subjects, including: female sexuality, death and loss, the nature of consciousness, motherhood, familial love, memory, and the surprising and sometimes unlikely means or rituals of empowerment (or, more often, disempowerment) of mind/ self. It is also remarkable how she intersects and multi-layers subjects and themes so gracefully. Hahn's voice is utterly unique in contemporary poetry: full of lyricism and grit simultaneously, alternately humble and bombastic, delicate and audaciously powerful. Technically and thematically, the breadth of her writing is incredibly capacious, flexible, and versatile.

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