Korean poet’s work published in English
“Our Encounter” is Kim Kyu-hwa’s first poetry in the English version published in the United States. This poetry book is an addition to the bookshelves of Korean poetry and literature for foreign readers. Increasing in quality and quantity there is room for significantly more.
Kim Kyu-hwa has been the publisher of Poetry Monthly (“Simunhak”) since 1977. This writer first encountered poetry in the 1970s. Her personality is comparable to 14-karat gold, not shiny like a one -carat diamond. She always presents decency in life, color and poetry. Her poems reflect her personality, lessof a glossy picture than a black-and-white picture in the 1960s. As a matter of fact, we shared many things in the 1960s. We are nostalgic about when we were in college.
Her poem, “Our Encounter,” may represent the book of 50 poems.
Under roadside trees
Over my narrow shoulder
As summer follows Spring,
And autumn skies come no time,
Walk under trees ...
As in that place
Drop over my shoulder,
Is that nature.
As trees open their arms
Towards the sky,
I lift my arms toward you,
As you come smiling to me,
As leaves cover the earth finally
Falling on the earth one by one
Nature is at the end of the quiet autumn wind:
The irresistible order of the universe.
Before long when evening comes
As the western sky is suffused with crimson.
When winter comes
As the earth weaves a dream
Into its crust
Like a soul as clean as snow,
Is that nature.
Her poetry is not like the constantly-changing new fashion trends in women’s dress and styles. It is like a tree during all four seasons.
Her poetry dwells on womanhood, her life, such as in “Middle-aged Woman,” “The Moon in Jeongupsa (or Jeongup Temple),” and “While helping with my daughter’s homework.” She now has passed middle age, but she is the same person I met in the 1960s and in the 1970s in her small office of Poetry Monthly.
She produced “Jeongupsa” in which a woman is waiting forher husband’s homecoming from the market under the moonlight in Baekje Kingdom (1B.C.8 to 660) or Unified Silla Kingdom (668-935) in the sixth century or seventh century in Jeongup, North Jeolla Province. Jeongup Temple is one of the oldest Korean poems in Korean history.
It’s interesting to note how the author converted the Baekje woman into a modern woman with a modern personality.
Dr. Choi has published three poetry books in English, “Autumn Vocabularies,” “Moon of New York” and “Copenhagen’s Bicycle.”