Translator’s Note for the Translation of “The Hypercube Records” & “Slaughterhouse Vigil” by Kakyung Baek from the Korean by Archana Madhavan

In “The Hypercube Records” and “Slaughterhouse Vigil,” Kakyung Baek builds with her poetics a world that is strong in character and place, with a narrative trajectory that is subconscious and fluid. The tempo of Baek’s poems is modulated through her use of mixed form; some of her verses are end-stopped, while others resemble unpunctuated prose. In translating Baek’s work, I wanted to preserve the poet’s deliberate choices in lineation and punctuation (and lack thereof) as best I could without sacrificing clarity. For example, the lines ending in periods in “The Hypercube Records” appeared as such in the original Korean, as did the sections of both poems that are not end-stopped. It is not uncommon in contemporary Korean poetry to encounter poems that are prose-like but lack punctuation of any kind between syntactic units—this is because the Korean language has intrinsic grammatical markers that can separate clauses and sentences from each other, making the use of commas, dashes, and periods not entirely necessary to conveying meaning. Poems that lack these demarcations read like private streams of consciousness, full of run-on emotions and rapidly melding, blending imagery. In order to preserve clarity and coherence of Baek’s poetic images, while maintaining the original poem’s sense of fluidity in English, I denoted the start of every sentence with a capital letter but did not add end-stops or line breaks where they did not appear in the original poem. Fortunately, when I shared my work with Baek and explained my reasoning, she was supportive of this choice!