Kimiko Hahn is the author of ten books of poems, three of which Hanging Loose published: Airpocket, Volatile, and Earshot which was awarded the Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Prize and an Association of Asian American Studies Literature Award. Foreign Bodies (W. W. Norton, 2020) is her most recent collection. Hahn has taught in graduate programs at the University of Houston and New York University, and is a distinguished professor in the MFA Program in Creative Writing & Literary Translation at Queens College, The City University of New York; she has also taught for literary organizations such as the Fine Arts Work Center, Cave Canem, and Kundiman. Honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, PEN/Voelcker Award, Shelley Memorial Prize, a Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writers’ Award as well as fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the N.Y. Foundation for the Arts. Hahn was recently elected to the Academy of American Poets’ Board of Chancellors.
Update March 1st: : Earshot was just chosen for CLMP (Community of Literary Magazines and Presses) expertly curated Reading List for Women’s History Month. Find the full list here.
Hanging Loose Press: What are this past year’s accomplishments that you are most proud of?
Kimiko Hahn: Before I cycled off the Poetry Society of America board, I sent some of Richard Wright’s haiku to Matt Brogan (I was thinking of Poetry in Motion). That suggestion coincided with a grant to place poetry in public spaces. It was an incredible joy to read a number of Wright’s haiku on the walls of downtown Brooklyn:
“Seeing Into Tomorrow”
I also began using haiku (Wright’s and those translated from the Japanese by Hiroaki Sato) for golden shovels, a form I’d never tried before. HL has a few in a forthcoming issue.
As for teaching at Queens College MFA Program: last Spring I taught a craft class (for all genres) on hybrid texts. It was super fun and because I structured it as a kind of lab, the texts and exercises also got me writing.
HLP: Are there any particularly difficult experiences/challenges for you this year? And how did you work through them?
KH: COVID continues to be a challenge when it comes to teaching in person and also spending time with family and friends. It’s especially important for me, as a writer and citizen, not to become isolated. I share my work with a few good friends. One-foot-in-front-of-the-other.
HLP: Can you tell us about any books you’ve read recently that made an impression on you?
KH: I’m currently teaching a grad craft class called “Chapbooks for Any Genre.” I donated 200 chapbooks to the Queens College library to start an archive (all genres), so my students have a good number to look through.
For “required texts,” I wanted to see what titles were available so my students could readily purchase them or download a pdf (see Emily Skillings’ “Linneaus: The 26 Sexual Practices of Plants from No Dear/Small Anchor Press!)
The chapbook Phong Nha, the Making of an American Smile led me to Tammy Nguyen’s full-length book O (Ugly Duckling Presse).
The Day, a collaboration by Jenni Wu (visual artist) and Julia Tolo (poet and translator) just came in the mail. I’m a fan of Julia’s Mother Cake (Ghostbird Press).
Cowboy & Other Poems/Cowboy & otros poemas by Alejandro Albarran Polanco is part of Ugly Duckling Presse’s translation series.
HLP: What are your upcoming projects?
KH: For my recent writing, I’ve turned to various forms and I’m continuing along those lines. They’ll be in a new collection that I’m compiling. I’m also at the talking stage with another writer about a collaboration–I’m too superstitious to describe it!
While we eagerly wait for Kimiko Hahn’s new work, we’ll keep reading her current work and watch this superbly moving interview on PBS:
Find out more about Kimiko Hahn at kimikohahn.com.