Kimiko Hahn was born in Mt. Kisco, New York, the child of artists, a Japanese American mother from Hawaii and a German American father from Wisconsin. She received an undergraduate degree in English and East Asian studies from the University of Iowa, and a master's degree in Japanese literature from Columbia University in 1984.
She is the author of eight collections of poetry, including, The Unbearable Heart which received an American Book Award; Earshot, a Theodore Roethke Memorial Prize and an Association of Asian American Studies Award; The Narrow Road to the Interior (W.W. Norton, 2006)—whose title is stolen from the haiku master, Basho—consists of work inspired by Japanese classical forms; and the forthcoming, Toxic Flora, poems prompted by science. She has also written for film; the latest, Everywhere At Once, was narrated by Jeanne Moreau and presented at The Cannes and Tribeca Film Festivals. Her work often explores desire and death, and the intersections of conflicting identities. She frequently draws on, and even reinvents, classic forms and techniques used women writers in Japan and China, including the zuihitsu, or pillow book, and nu shu, a nearly extinct script Chinese women used to correspond with one another. About her own work and its place in Asian American writing, Hahn has said: "I’ve taken years to imagine an Asian American aesthetic. I think it’s a combination of many elements—a reflection of Asian form, an engagement with content that may have roots in historical identity, together with a problematic, and even psychological, relationship to language."
Hahn is the recipient of the 2008 PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry, given biennially to an American poet whose distinguished and growing body of work to date represents a notable and accomplished presence in American literature. She is also the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Foundation. She has taught in the MFA programs at New York University and the University of Houston, and is currently a distinguished professor in the English Department and MFA program at Queens College/CUNY and lives in New York.
Read an interview with Kimiko Hawn in BOMB Magazine
Click here to watch an interview with Kimiko Hahn