Quotidian Life in Plain Truth
- onJuly 16, 2015
- Vol.28 Summer 2015
- byKim Kwang-Kyu
Kim Kwang-Kyu’s poems are easy to read. His poems depict everyday stories through simple language. However, simplicity of language does not imply that Kim’s poems contain a common message. Behind Kim’s unpretentious wording lies a twist of plot; within everyday language hides an allusive motif hinting at a higher meaning. Kim’s poems help us grasp aspects of life that we might have never considered or perceived before.
Kim takes note of the different facets of our everyday lives. He does not believe that life’s truth lies in some mysterious place detached from our ordinary lives. He seeks truth in the specificity of life without relying on ideological or metaphysical ideas. Because life is specific, the language he uses to express it is specific as well. Seen from this perspective, Kim’s seemingly straightforward narratives are in fact part of a sophisticated strategy directed towards discovering the truth about life. He creates a narrative structure suited for his unique and meticulous observation of life’s specific situations. This is why all of his poems have a different narrative and structure despite being written plainly: he is a poet who changes his technique to fit the theme of each poem.
In “One Leaf,” for example, the first two and the last two stanzas have different implications. In the first two stanzas, Kim refers to his obliviousness, while, in the last two, he alludes to a newly realized truth. He arranges the stanzas this way so that his obliviousness in the beginning emphasizes the significance of the discovery that follows. From a reader’s perspective, the poem’s first half generates curiosity about the nature of the poet’s ignorance: a curiosity quenched by the discovery in the latter half. With this strategy, the poet shares the joy of discovery with the reader. Kim has arranged the stanzas in accordance with the desired psychological effect on the reader.
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