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Women Writers festival in progress

Irena Zajickova | Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The University is hosting its second annual Women’s Writer’s Conference this week, with events taking place through Wednesday morning.

The conference, entitled “Global Women Writers Now,” will be held in the Hesburgh Center. It is co-hosted by Notre Dame’s English Department and Creative Writing Program.

The interdisciplinary festival kicked off with an open-mic night for students on Sunday from 7-9 p.m. in the LaFortune Student Center ballroom.

On Monday, the conference featured a panel discussion, “Women in International Literary Cultures: Korea and Mexico.” The panel consisted of Kim Hyesoon, a prominent Korean writer, and Laura Solórzano, an emerging Mexican poet and editor.

Two translators, Don Mee Choi and Jen Hofer, poets and anthologists of contemporary women’s Korean and Mexican writing, respectively, also were present.

Hyesoon has published seven volumes of poetry since 1981, teaches poetry at the Seoul Institute and has won many prominent Korean awards. Choi has worked as Hyesoon’s translator and will publish her first book next year.

Hyesoon spoke about the history of Koreans, including a description of the myth of the first Korean. She also discussed the role of women in Korean myths. A woman’s primary purpose in such stories was to give birth to a son; they then disappeared from the story completely. However, in stories involving shamans’ rituals, women played a more prominent role.

Hyesoon also described the various types of Korean poetry, those written by upper-class men in traditional Chinese script and poems created by women that told of daily life in Korea that were passed down orally. She also discussed the roles that such poetry played in society and the influence they had on her own work.

Solórzano has published three books and currently teaches writing in Guadalajara, Mexico. Hofer is the translator of a large amount of prominent Mexican poetry.

Solórzano discussed her book of poetry, “Lobo de Labio,” which translates in English as “Lip Wolf.” She described the book as “an experiment in language.”

“Lobo de Labio” has been published four separate times since Solórzano wrote it. Today, the Global Women Writers Now festival is offering a trilingual reading by Hyesoon and Solórzano, with readings taking place in Korean, Spanish, and English. The reading takes place at 5 p.m. in the Hesburgh Center auditorium.

Tomorrow, a roundtable discussion, “Translation: Politics and Practice,” will take place in room C103 of the Hesburgh Center. The discussion is a chance for students, faculty, and translators to share opinions and ideas with one another.