[Web Exclusive] Ordinary Alienation: A Conversation with Lee Byungryul
- onJuly 23, 2018
- Vol.40 Summer 2018
- byKorean Literature Now
KLN: As a poet, you must have a keen sensitivity. What are you mostly sensitive about?
Lee Byungryul: Indeed, I was born a highly sensitive person. I could have done other things with my sensitivity. I think I was born with immense sadness in me that I could hardly endure. To me, most things appear sorrowful. When you see something for the first time, you may find it dazzling, beautiful or impressive. As for me, I become overwhelmed with sadness. When you feel grateful for something, it brightens your mood. But even in those moments, I turn to sadness. As a sensitive yet sorrowful person, I reckon I’ve chosen the right path for myself. Looking back on my childhood, I was never a cheerful kid. Even as a young boy, I rarely smiled.
KLN: Is there a reason why you often go away, write poetry and then come back?
Lee: My background and the environment I grew up in, as well as the norms and messages of our society all tend to be rather conventional. Therefore, when I’m away from home, experiencing and internalising unfamiliarity, I often feel a slight change in me. When that happens, I write poems or wait for a line of poetry to arrive. I think such times have become almost embedded in me. In the city where I currently belong, I take care of practical matters. But when I go somewhere far away, I can be a boy or a tame sheep, and recall the things I have to do or love back in the city. My travels are all about that process, which, I suppose, reflects the journey of poetry writing.