Inspired by her encounter with Dr. Chevalier Jackson’s collection of ingested curiosities at Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum, Kimiko Hahn’s tenth collection investigates the grip that seemingly insignificant objects exert on our lives. Itself a cabinet of curiosities, the collection provokes the same surprise, wonder, and pangs of recognition Hahn felt upon opening drawer after drawer of these swallowed, and retrieved, objects—a radiator key, a child’s perfect attendance pin, a mother-of-pearl button. The speaker of these moving poems sees reflections of these items in the heartbreaking detritus of her family home, and in her long-dead mother’s Japanese jewelry. Foreign Bodies investigates the power of possession, replete with Hahn’s electric originality and thrilling mastery of ever-changing forms.
Rooted in meditations on contemporary neuroscience, Brain Fever takes as its subject the mysteries of the human mind—the nature of dreams and memories, the possibly illusory nature of linear time, the complexity of conveying love to a child. Equally inspired by Sei Shonagon’s tenth-century Pillow Book and the latest findings of cognitive research, Brain Fever is a thrilling blend of the timely and the timeless. Read reviews from the New York Journal of Books, Boston Review, Pleiades, Post45.
For Kimiko Hahn, the language and imagery of science open up magical possibilities for the poet. In her haunting eighth collection inspired by articles from the weekly “Science” section of the New York Times, Hahn explores identity, extinction, and survival using exotic tropes drawn from the realms of astrophysics, mycology, paleobotany, and other rarefied fields. With warmth and generosity, Hahn mines the world of science in these elegant, ardent poems. Read Publishers Weekly’s review here.
THE NARROW ROAD TO THE INTERIOR
Here Hahn takes up the Japanese prose-poetry genre zuihitsu—literally “running brush,” which utilizes tactics such as juxtaposition, contradiction, and broad topical variety—in exploring her various identities as mother and lover, wife and poet, daughter of varied traditions. Read a review at Cerise Press.
THE ARTIST’S DAUGHTER
The poems in this book explore the interplay—and tensions—among her various identities: mother, lover, wife, poet, and daughter of both the Midwest and Asia. However astonishing her subjects—from sideshow freaks to sadomasochistic fantasy—they ultimately emerge in this startling collection as moving images of the deepest levels of our shared humanity. Read Publisher’s Weekly’s review here.
MOSQUITO AND ANT
This breakthrough volume is Hahn’s most rigorously “female” work to date. Mosquito and Ant refers to the style in which nu shu—a nearly extinct script used by Chinese women to correspond with one another—is written. The narrator writes to L. about her hidden passions, her relationship with her husband and adolescent daughters, lost loves, and erotic fantasies. Hahn offers us an authentic and complex narrator struggling with the sorrows and pleasures of being a woman against the backdrop of her Japanese-American roots. Read reviews from BOMB and Publisher’s Weekly.
THE UNBEARABLE HEART
A passionate book of grief and mourning of a mother’s death. The poems range from Murasaki’s Genji to Roland Barthes’ masculinist post-structuralism. Hahn continues her explorations of Japanese folk and classical themes and poetics, while her magnificently imagined voice of Kuchuk Hanem, the Egyptian prostitute described in Flaubert’s travelogues, bravely ventures into new areas of meaning suppressed by Orientalism about the Middle East. Publisher’s Weekly‘s review here. Juliana Chang’s “‘I Cannot Find Her’: The Oriental Feminine, Racial Melancholia, and Kimiko Hahn’s The Unbearable Heart” here.
In this book, Kimiko Hahn manages to take the air of atrocity we breathe in daily and turn it into fierce political/ lyrical poetry, in the tradition of Shelley’s The Masque of Anarchy. Current events ripped open and the entrails exposed in living color. She is one of our strongest poets-Harvey Shapiro. In VOLATILE, Hahn’s lyrical voice maintains its course through narratives ranging from quiet recollections of childhood to the sometimes unbearable horrors of the modern world.
Hahn’s second book is “[a] sensual maze of language and startling imagery. Hahn’s poetry intoxicates you with her sexual passion, her rigorous intelligence, and the luminous quality of her writing” (Jessica Hagedorn). Jack Hirschman comments that “Hahn’s new collection, even more concentrated in content than Air Pocket, covers all bases: from first, to the keystone, to the dialectical hot corner to home. Kisses pumped up from the left ventricle.”
Air Pocket is Kimiko Hahn’s first book, a collection rooted in the actual and emotional geography of California. Acclaimed as “one of the most fascinating female poets of our time” (BOMB), Kimiko Hahn is a shape-shifter, a poet who seeks novel forms for her utterly original subject matter and “stands as a welcome voice of experimentation and passion” (Bloomsbury Review).