Notes from the North


A winner of the 2019 International Book & Pamphlet Competition, selected by Neil Astley, Michael Schmidt and Amy Wack.

Notes from the North is horrific, powerful, and astute, full of passion and moral authority. Although we’ve heard about the brutal dictatorship of North Korea before, these poems bring us the voices on the brink, with the compelling urgency of a diary of contemporary tyranny and the havoc it wreaks on this particular family. This is a scorched family album, rescued from the ruins – Amy Wack, co-judge for the 2019 International Book & Pamphlet Competition

[Her] Whitmanesque lines convey the brutality and the pathos of not just the Korean War, but of conflict in general. — Daljit Nagra, on BBC Radio 4 Poetry Extra

Read a sample.

Published August 2022


What Writers and Critics Think

  • What I find particularly moving is the unassuming, meditative, reverential voice of a kind of Greek chorus, emphasising the whole unlikelihood of existence … A large vision of hope, in the presence of the new being, who rouses ‘so much wonder that wonder is not the word.’ How mysterious and right that this apparent retraction (‘not the word’) shows us that wonder is indeed the word!

    Carol Rumens, the Guardian
  • Suji Kwock Kim is one of the lodestars of English language poetry, sincerely one of the most interesting and peerless writers we have. Her undeniable, unmistakable poems have indelibly inflected a generation of writers (myself very much included) who sit, wide-eyed, at her feet — passionately curious, rigorously invested in justice. . . . The depth of Suji Kim’s gaze and the boundlessness of her compassion make her an essential model for me (and countless others), both on and off the page.

    Kaveh Akbar, Poetry Editor, THE NATION
  • Felt music, acute with history’s pain, and still the uplift towards redemption ripples over the sharp tercets which are like jagged stairs ‘back / to that world without words, // … where tongueless cells / first hunger, brood, divide.’ Brood! A perfectly timed elongation pushing against the final rupture.

    Ishion Hutchinson, judge for The Well Review Poetry Prize 2019


A brilliant poet … Yes, this is North Korea, but also the world where a poet’s mind offers us a realm of imagination, where ‘the not-I in the I’ opens onto ‘silence [that] is never silent in this country.’ – Ilya Kaminsky, judge for the Lucille Medwick Award, Poetry Society of America

Polyvocality and the visual are both used brilliantly in service of rewriting the master narratives with which they are concerned. Lexically, referentially, conceptually, and with a painful and telling irony, these poems make a feast of a famine. – Evie Shockley, judge for the George Bogin Award, Poetry Society of America

These poems are part-nightmare, part-history book written in ammonia and blood. I couldn’t forget these lyrics of murder and escape, brutal musicality and prophecy. – Aimee Nezhukumatathil, judge for the George Bogin Award, Poetry Society of America

Another marvelous achievement is its rough music, syllable by syllable, magically contribut[ing] to a euphony which would have been cacophonous in the hands of a lesser poet. And that’s all before we absorb the subject matter – an account of love whose subject is fragile and potentially vulnerable to horrific loss. – Patrick Cotter, judge for the Gregory O’Donoghue Award (Munster Literature Centre, Ireland)

Suji Kwock Kim is author of Notes from the Divided Country, which won the Addison Metcalf Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets, the Whiting Writers’ Award, the Bay Area Book Reviewers/ Northern California Book Award, and was a finalist for the Griffin International Prize; and Private Property, a multimedia play performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Her work has appeared in the Guardian, the New Statesman, Poetry Review, Poetry London, London Magazine, and The North in the U.K., Irish ExaminerThe Well Review, and Southword in Ireland, and Best American Poetry, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times,  Washington Post, Slate, The Nation, The New Republic, Poetry, and Paris Review in the U.S.  She is a 2022 Poet-in-Residence at The Wordsworth Trust.

Additional information

Weight 0.089 kg
Dimensions 21 × 14.8 × 0.3 cm

978-1-912196-77-7, 978-1-914914-35-5

Publication Year

August 2022

B&P Comp Winner

Winner of the 2019 International Book & Pamphlet Competition judged by Neil Astley, Michael Schmidt and Amy Wack.


eBook (ePub), Pamphlet