If you tire out, all giddy flustered navigating from site to site, then take a sheet of blank paper and with all your mind write down each letter of your name stroke by stroke. —from “Charm”
The image of paper, beautifully wrought as the controlling metaphor, runs through each poem sometimes to lament humanity lost over dazzling civilization, sometimes to call for restoration by means of everything good a sheet of paper symbolizes, all in a voice quite pithy and restrained. This poetry book is a grain of seed in light of the poet’s longing for warm human nature, and of her effort to restore it; it also bears her love for paper.
Song Yong is not one of the more celebrated writers in Korea but more of an outsider looking in on the mainstream writing establishment in Korea. His work has never seen commercial success, nor it is well-known in Korea, although he is respected among prominent literary critics. The lack of interest in Korean literature in North America makes it difficult to find a publishing venue for "out-of-the ordinary" fiction such as Song Yong's.... Song Yong's fictional world is different from the mainstream Korean fiction in the 70s and 80s that tended to reflect the political struggle for democracy and the consequences of rapid industrialization. It focuses on the alienation of individuals who are marginalized from society for various reasons. They are vulnerable within a homogenous society where dominant public discourse enforces rigid hierarchy, obedience, and conformity. There is little precedent in Korean fiction for Song Yong's calm, subdued and often detached narrative voice. He is one of the few Korean writers influenced by Existentialism in the 70s, and the themes of existential angst and despair appear throughout his work.... Song Yong's stories have a surreal tone which is rare in Korean fiction.... His stories never follow a standard formula or contrived plots but employ a unique narrative voice and technique that can be identified as distinctly his. They may deal with taboo topics in Korean society such as the unequal American-Korean relationship, materialism, and disturbing physical and mental abuses prevalent in the Korean military penal system.... Song Yong's stories display a Kafkaesque world of ordinary people trapped in authoritarian society. They present a different Asian fiction to readers accustomed to the two most common genres: Chinese books on Mao's cultural revolution and Murakami's brand of weird-for-weird's-sake Japanese fiction.
—from the introduction by translator Jason Park2008 | 190 pages
Translations by Hillel Schwartz & Sunny Jung Kim Namjo's dynamic use of sensual language and vibrant imagery portrays the subtlety of humanity and passion for religious life. Her work has received numerous awards and she has served as chair of the Korean Poet's Association
2010 | 84 pages