Review: Shadow of the Void by Ynhui Park, poetry translated by Brother Anthony

GOODS2_1397627055While the rest of us have been sleeping, Brother Anthony (An Sonjae). who apparently has nt such physical requirements^^ has been busy translating poetry again, this time Shadow of the Void by Korean poet and writer Ynhui Park who publishes under the name Park Yeemun in Korea I have no idea at all where the Romanization of his name has come from, but that’d be how you’re going to find him on the Internet, including his Wikipedia page, which was created by… well.. you know who.^^

The book has been published by the fine folks at Seoul Selection. What follows is a review from SEOUL WEEKLY (April 16, 2014 / Issue No. 628) with interspersed comments (italicised) from yours truly.

Renowned around the world for his philosophy and poetry, Park is highly regarded as an original Korean philosopher. He advocates three principles: intellectual transparency, emotional passion, and moral integrity. His writings, which draw upon his vast knowledge and wide experience, are adored by people of all ages. Park has published numerous books, including Roadmap to a Green Korea and The Journey Isn’t Over Yet. (None of which have been translated into English, so far as I can tell though The Snow on the Charles River once was, it seems unavailable, even on Amazon)

Park’s poems are not difficult; they are usually simple and suggestive, inviting the reader to share an experience of some moment, some scene, in which the underlying void seems to have yielded to value and meaning. His poems very often re-enact a search for consolation and peace, faced with the meaninglessness and absurdity of human existence. (This description is very reminiscent of some descriptions of the poetry of Ko Un, which Brother Anthony also translates – and again at a ferocious pace).

Many Korean poems are in some sense poems about being Korean, but his poems are fascinating for their open universality (again, a kind of poetry Brother Anthony has proven to be skilled at translating ). His anguish is that of the modern world’s consciousness of the cosmic void; his hope cannot be formulated, and yet it remains a hope for the victory of humanity over blind cruelty. His poetry is neither dark nor despairing; instead it is often humorous, light, and fanciful.

So, if you like your poetry translated, the awesome work of Brother Anthony, or just a chance to read a slightly different kind of poetry, head over to the online bookstore at Seoul Selection and pick this one up.