Title: The Big Sister of Objects
Author: Chyung JinKyu
LTI Korea staff: Claire Kyung Jin (firstname.lastname@example.org / +82-2-6919-7732)
About the book
Observing the cover of The Big Sister of Objects , one finds a heading that might be rather noteworthy: “Writings of Yullyŏ.” Y ullyŏ is a musical term based on the principle of the y inyang harmony which has been serving as a source for various strands of Asian philosophies. It is an order of Six Y ul s and Six R yŏ s, according to which y ul governs the realm of y ang and ryŏ rules that of y in through the cosmic flow. This is the basis of all ‘objects’ embraced in Chyung’s poems, and is symbolized as ‘the big sister’ who, as the firstborn, leads us while warmly carrying us in her arms. It is the source of the rhythm in Chyung’s poetry which unifies the mind and body .
The form of prose poetry taken by Chyung as well emerged from such cosmic rhythm. For this, poetry becomes a principle of the universe’ biorhythm itself, and an order of coexistence. With such system, the body of every sentient being and organism becomes a sacred provider of energy for those “outside” her rather than a possession of the being occupying the body, while it in and of itself is also the truest nature of existence.
The rhythm that served as the source of Chyung’s poetry is, in a unique manner, continued through the poems with s orrow and s ensuality —which is another source of human life—as a link, a ‘string’ or a ‘membrane’ that extends the system of coexistence.
“The sound ring of sorrow revolves in a circle without a sound”
— Late Autumn I
“Thou crooked back of the aged woman, thine somber skin has been shown through mmh! I felt tearful for the first time in a long time I murmured Thou aged woman’s tearfully beautiful hillside”
“The faces of symbols are the bosoms of the big sisters on a spring day, moans in the midst of mammitis Last winter was brutal Spring rain’s such tender amplitude which indiscriminately lays its drenched body is a truly chilling
As apparent in the above examples, Chyung does not try to exclude human sorrow from the movements of Y ullyŏ which generates harmony between all things. Rather, the sorrow for the poet himself is another link of y ullyŏ . How could the resilient strings of sorrow be removed from the cosmic “exuberance project?” While the rhythm of y ullyŏ represents the y inyang harmony, joy and sorrow too is among the viration of the unifying rhythm.
About the author
JinKyu Chyung was born in 1939 in Kyŏnggi Province, and graduated from Korea University in 1964. Since his debut as a winner of DongA Ilbo’s Spring Literary Contest in 1960, Chyung has been making immense contrubution to the literary circle for almost sixty years—not only as a poet, but also as a leader in the publication of C ontemporary Coterie Poetry which has lucidly presented helpful methodologies for contemporary poetry (1963–), a chairman of the Society of Korean Poets (1998–2000), and as a chief editor of the specialized magazine C ontemporary Poetry (1988–2014).
The poet’s universe created with his seventeen volumes of poetry, which include this translation of W ritings of Yullyŏ: The Big Sister of Objects (Ch'aek Mandŭnŭn Chip, 2011), together with a number of volumes on poetics including Q uestions and Targets (Tonghaksa, 2003), is indeed notable. Among the works in which Chyung has consistnetly presented his lyrcism, his A nthology of Poetry has been translated and published in German.
The form of Chyung’s poems has been progressively solidified into that of prose poetry which is granted along the cosmic rhythm of Y ullyŏ . In his style of prose, sounds and slience come to contrast each other and change places. The delicate cevices which are created in such dynamic juxtapositions respond to each other’s existence while becoming a tune which sustains the poet’s style. Such relational movement is the nature Yullyŏ which places Chyung’s prosaic aesthetics on a level far from certain allurement of clichéd line replacements.
About the translators
Ahrim Won is currently working as a translator in Korea, looking for likeminded translators, artists and thinkers to collaborate with.
Media Response/Awards Received
- Society of Korean Poets Award (1980), The Woltan Literature Prize (1985), The Contemporary Poetry Award (1987), Gongcho Literary Prize (2001), The Hyundae Buddhist Literature Award (2008), YiSang Poetry Award (2009), The Manhae Grand Prize (2010), Kim Satgat Literary Award (2011), Hyesan Pak Tujin Literary Award (2014), Order of Culture Merit, the Republic of Korea (2006)
That there are “direct underlings,” “a number one underling” as well as “big sisters” for every object—is a unique and remarkable insight granted by Chyung’s work.
— Joongang Ilbo
“Thou moon jar, caressing the skin of the bisquefired clay, dimly and distantly crossing the warmth of sorrow, all through the night while pear blossoms wither”
— The Hankyoreh
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