Poetry

Origami in Verse: Fifteen Seconds without Sorrow by Shim Bo-Seon
Only the rarest of poets could possibly have the ability to revel in the motion lines and reverse Doppler of the fleeing kid who has vandalized his or her house. Perhaps only the greatest wandering poets of classical China and Japan, the ancient Roman civic poets of highest virtue and acclaim, or the most aware and accomplished of the Modern Imagists were in this world so sensorily and socially engaged. Yet it must be an even more remarkable poet who can feel and express genuine admiration for the aspiring juvenile graffiti artist’s literary power and subtlety of expression: The kid...
Poetry That Fights with Itself: Karma Ocean by Moon Chung-hee
If I had to pinpoint a thematic nucleus in this very versatile book of poetry by Moon Chung-hee, Ariadne’s thread would surely proceed from the title, a suggestive pairing — in beautiful paradox — of the oceanic whirlwind and the inconceivable vastness of karma. Just as in prose, in which our own Western tradition yields itself to a struggle of opposites, while the East cultivates, by way of generalization, a contemplative tonality, in poetry, most likely, a similar divergence occurs, with very different expressions in each hemisphere. As these verses seductively attest: while for us the subconscious dominates, introspection and...
Tense Pasts, Present Futures? Contemporary Korean Poetry
This constellation of new translations necessarily updates our view of Korea’s literary firmament. The collection is structured into three chronologicallyordered sections and opens with “Poetry of Today,” containing the work of twenty-one poets (all but one still alive, and the three youngest born in 1970); “Survivors of the War” contains the work of six poets, each of whom is still alive; “Founding Voices” houses the work of seventeen canonical poets. Rather than an independently published anthology in its own right, and despite being a special edition of the esteemed literary journal Mānoa, The Colors of Dawn is a prodigious advance...
Vivaldi’s Fifth Season: Songs of Sacred Irreverence: I Am a Season That Does Not Exist by Kim Kyung Ju
How do poems, as living, breathing, soulful things, seek out and locate their translators? Whatever the answer, the fact that some of the most important contemporary Korean poetry today has chosen holy men and priestly assistants — Brother Anthony of Taizé and Jake Levine — as its spiritual-linguistic intermediaries seems a matter of supernatural importance. For this is a holy book. Holy in the sense of the ancient Biblical term and eponymous Ginsberg opus, Kaddish , the Hebrew word for “separation.” Indeed, the speaker of Kim Kyung Ju’s I Am a Season That Does Not Exist in the World and...
Repetition and Difference: Request Line at Noon by Lee Jangwook
What role does poetry have to play in society today? How does poetry address the world around us? If you are a poet or are invested in the poetry industry, it is always good to have an elevator speech at the ready. You might be on a plane someday, and someone might ask you what you do, and to just say poetry or translation or publishing poetry sounds to the layman like you live on the moon and ride unicorns to work. One has to always explain — because how can something which has little to no market value still...
Unleashing Her Tongue: Poor Love Machine by Kim Hyesoon
This first full English translation of a landmark collection published nearly twenty years ago takes us back to a turning point in Korean poetry. When Kim Hyesoon won the Kim Su-Young Literary Award for Poor Love Machine , she became the first female poet to receive this coveted award, following many years when the women poets who had emerged during the 1980s struggled for recognition in a literary culture policed by Korea’s male-dominated literary establishment. Kim began publishing her work in 1979 and was one of the first of few women to be published in Literature and Intellect , one...
Do Jong-Hwan: Poems of Love, Loss, and Hope
When we consider the immense popularity enjoyed by Do Jong-Hwan, both as a poet and as a person, it is quite surprising that it has taken so long for a volume of his most popular poems to be published in English. This new publication offers the additional advantage of being bilingual, so that readers also have access to the original texts of the poems. Ivy At times when we feel that it is a wall, unavoidably a wall, then without a word ivy goes climbing up the wall. At times when we say that it is a wall of despair...
History’s Grounds? Lee Si-young’s Patterns
Patterns, an anthology of 125 poems from Lee Si-young’s ten previously published collections, is a hefty pocketbook that maps out a major Korean poet’s work, and announces his voice to international readerships. Born in 1949, a year before the Korean War, Lee’s work scans an increasingly unrecognizable homeland; his poems are often ironic, humorous pastorals that seek to explore sites too-quickly disappearing or disappeared. Lee Si-young can perhaps best be characterized as a wandering humanist, actively making sense amid flux and chaos—from colonization to civil war to military dictatorship to industrialization and onto rampant neoliberalism. The book’s first poem acts...
Korean Women’s Poetry at Its Finest
Moon Chung-hee is one of postwar Korea’s pioneering female poets. Rejecting moral stereotypes outright, she has creatively expressed a “feminine awareness of life” and a “woman’s existential self-consciousness” through her bold writing. Moon has altered the course of Korean women’s poetry by changing its position to a social and existential one by frankly expressing the essence of a woman’s perspective. Not confining herself to gender or feminism, she has continued to inform the world about womanhood in a way that is suffused with an awareness of life. She believes that an affinity between humans and nature as well as among...
Togetherness Becomes Us
A Warm Family is a collection of poetry that emphasizes the family as the foundation of all human interaction. Kim Huran shows the importance of family and friendship as the fundamental relationships that shape our world. Throughout this work, the poet creates images that show secluded moments of bliss with lovers — those moments when love seems to enshroud and shield us from the reality of the world. These experiences allow us to overlook the mundane and all the pain that comes from it. Kim’s poems express the reality that we all need each other, and they show the natural...

Pages