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Stuff for the Teen Age: Kimiko Hahn


Urban Word’s second visiting Master Poet, Kimiko Hahn, instructs herself and her students by saying, “let things get messy early in the process, and eventually make sense of it.” Her process is a reflection of her subject matter — science. Science, as anyone who has looked up at the stars or dissected a frog knows, is messy, complicated, and frustrating. Hahn looks up to the stars and down into the ground for inspiration, but ultimately, her poetry reflects her own body and her own feelings. Check out her poem, "Space":


I don’t understand space — the emptiness,

the distance measured in light.

Take the protostar: I can’t grasp
how clouds of dust and gas can collapse

then suck up more stuff and expand

to over 20 times the size of our sun.
In all this heat and shadow

where did mother disappear
after the car crash? Where

is my daughters’ grandmother
since they’ve learned there is no heaven —

except for needle and pine?

What kind of astral influence is it
where in varying degrees of reversal

a thing breaks down
yet shows no sign of ceasing?

And what now is the nature of her form?

Hahn is taking on big, ugly, funny truths in her poetry. When asked to describe herself, she has said, “I’m the one who writes about nonsense.” She may start writing nonsense, but the end result is breathtaking, truthful, and deeply personal.

We’re really excited to see what she inspires you to create at Urban Word. Join Hahn at Urban Word on Wednesday, July 20 at 3 p.m. for the workshop. Don’t live in New York and stil want to participate? Hook up with Urban Word on Twitter and follow links for a live stream of the workshop.

Hahn will also read from her work on July 20 at 6 p.m. at the Bowery Poetry Club. Grab some dinner after the workshop and come check it out.


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