Poetry

Robot of Loneliness: One Day, Then Another by Kim Kwang-Kyu
One Day, Then Another , by Kim Kwang- Kyu cannot be simplified into a few themes or concepts. Rather it ranges widely across the world, and through time and space. Kim takes us on a journey through loss and grief, war and shame, death and meanings/iterations of life. His poems take the reader through occupation/insurgence, historical periods of peace/prosperity, to the ever-silent present whether in cityscape or countryside. He is magnificently aware, open, receptive/perceptive. Though deeply complex, I want to focus on the textures of silence, loneliness, failure, and pain throughout these poems. Kim takes us to the transit station...
Words Splitting on the Page: I'm OK, I'm Pig! by Kim Hyesoon
I first heard Kim Hyesoon at Poetry Parnassus, the global festival of poetry which took place in London’s Olympic year. Kim Hyesoon shared the stage with Seamus Heaney. It was the last time I heard Seamus Heaney read in public and the first time I heard Kim Hyesoon, and even at the time it felt momentous. Heaney read some of his best-known poems. graceful, lyrical, and contemplative. The birdlike Kim Hyesoon wove a pattern of poems, so strangely compelling and curious, and utterly unlike anything I had heard before. In April 2014, Kim returned to the Southbank Centre to read...
Disturbing the Peace: Walking on a Washing Line by Kim Seung-hee
When poet Kim Seung-hee’s most recent volume, Pots Bobbing , was awarded the poetry prize in Korea’s 2006 “This Year’s Art Awards,” I decided that I ought to translate it. I had already translated a few of her earlier poems, and admired her work for its originality and vitality. She suggested adding a few poems from a previous volume and also gave me some poems she had not yet published. The resulting book was published earlier this year in the Cornell East Asia Series. It is very difficult to find a publisher for translated Korean poetry, or for Korean literature...
New Poems from “The Ambassador of Sijo”: Urban Temple by David McCann
At Manhae Village Mystified by the dark light yet eager to try the drum, the great bell, hollow wood fish, bronze hammered plaque that calls the birds, one by one, as the monk calls us we step forward and begin. Master translator, scholar and above all poet, David McCann wrote his first sijo in Korean in 1966 while he lived in Andong as a Peace Corps volunteer. Now, after 40 years of living with the sijo tradition, studying Korean literature, and translating illustrious poets like Kim Ji-ha, Kim Sowol, Ko Un, and Cho Oh-hyun into English, McCann, a worthy inheritor...
A Poetics of Transformations: Mommy Must be a Fountain of Feathers by Kim Hyesoon
In the poem that bears the title of Kim Hyesoon’s remarkable book “Mommy Must be a Fountain of Feathers” (elegantly translated by Don Mee Choi), motherhood blooms outward until the private world of her children is transformed into a vast feathered incubator: At mommy’s house, the floors are also mommy, the dust that floats around the rooms is also mommy, when you open the door of mommy’s house I’m under mommy’s feathers like an unhatched egg. By blurring the lines between human and animal consciousness/experience, Kim complicates the intimacy of the private, often domestic space of mothering by revealing how...
Poet Kim Soo-young, Still Controversial: The Complete Works of Kim Soo-young, Vol.1 (Poems)
Countless poets began writing poetry after the liberation of Korea from Japan. But it is difficult to find another poet who aroused as much interest and stirred as much controversy as Kim Soo-young. He died at the relatively young age of 48 in 1968, but his poetry has become a symbol of freedom and revolution during the democratization of Korea, embodying literature that represents social concerns while being an example of modern, avant-garde poetry. Moreover, his life and work have elicited praise and criticism as well as a debate on imitation versus reflection by liberals, socialists, anti-Communists, and diverse types...
The Art of Emptiness: Love of a One-Eyed Fish by Ryu Shiva
The poems of Ryu Shiva are devoid of color and smell. They are like drinking a bland but subtle tea from East Asia. Although there doesn’t seem to be any fragrance, the last drop leaves a lingering scent as it goes down one’s throat. His poems offer an innocent joy that is akin to the birth of a new vowel that is created by the hidden meaning in his verses. The proposition that, “There is that which is Oriental,” could carry a subversive undertone, for it suggests an ideological dichotomy. Even if one does not apply the analysis that is...
The Age of Disgrace and Illusion: Silk Mountain at the South Sea by Lee Seong-Bok
Poets have always had an uncomfortable relationship with the age in which they live. Such is the discord modern literature has by birth. Georg Lukács has said that literature is the logic that seeks truth in life with subversive methods in a restless era. It is necessary to call our attention to a Korean history that has gone through a number of upheavals in the past century. In the last 100 years, Korea entered the modern era through colonial rule, was liberated, fought an ideological war (Korean War), and endured decades of military dictatorship. Politics were always unstable and the...
A Song of Melancholy Youth: Black Leaf in My Mouth by Ki Hyongdo
The year 2009 marked the 20th anniver-sary of the death of Ki Hyongdo. Anthologies were published in his honor, and memorial services were held. It seemed that to those who gathered at a small café mourning him, Ki Hyongdo was more of a historical symbol representing an era, and the name of youth that was to be remembered forever, than a deceased poet. It’s not just a handful of readers who remember him this way. Twenty years after his death, Ki Hyongdo is one of the poets most beloved by Korean readers, especially the young. Born in 1960, Ki Hyongdo...
The Selected Poems of Ko Un
It is a great honor for Wallstein Publishing to have been able to publish Awakening from Sleep, a selection of poems by Ko Un. Ko Un is probably the most internationally renowned Korean poet, and his works have long been highly praised and translated into a number of other languages. When Wallstein first decided to publish an anthology of Ko Un’s poems, we were already aware of the great importance of this writer. Ko Un’s work had already been published by the German publishers Suhrkamp in 1988, and also by Pendragon, a company that has been striving to introduce Korean...

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