kaya publishes books of the asian pacific diaspora

✚Other Authors

Kimiko Hahn

Kimiko Hahn is the author of seven poetry collections. The Unbearable Heart won the Before Columbus Foundation’s American Book Award. She has received numerous grants, including a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Award. She teaches at Queens College/The City University of New York.


The Unbearable Heart

Kaya Press 1996

A 1996 recipient of the American Book Award, The Unbearable Heart is a superbly composed yet passionate book of grief, mourning, and the overcoming of a mother’s death. Creating ever-deepening cycles of feeling and insight, the poems range across a stunning variety of poetic landscapes and voices, from Murasaki’s Genji to Roland Barthes’ masculinist post-structuralism. Kimiko Hahn’s use of innovative forms continues her explorations of Japanese folk and classical themes and poetics, while her magnificently imagined voice of Kuchuk Hanem, the Egyptian prostitute described/silenced in Flaubert’s travelogues, bravely ventures into new areas of meaning suppressed by Orientalism about the Middle East.


“Reading The Unbearable Heart you have the sense of someone tearing the past apart and rebuilding with naked, raw hands. The work is furious, flawed and absolutely necessary.”
— Adrienne Rich

“It may sound odd to call a book of elegies exciting, but while reading The Unbearable Heart you’ll find yourself catching your breath as much as you weep. If the poet’s work is to find a way to speak the unutterable, take this book as your guide.”
— Cornelius Eady

“Hahn’s gaze is confident and immediate”
Poetry Calendar