Poetry Depot

March 16, 2011

Ko Un, Major Contemporary Poet from Korea

Filed under: Korea — razvan @ 1:24 am

Ko Un (born on 1 August or 11 April 1933) is a South Korean poet. His works have been translated and published in more than 15 countries and he has been imprisoned many times.[1] Un is often considered a likely winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature,[2] so much so that reporters have camped outside his house ahead of the annual announcement.[1][3] (from wiki)
Ko Un was a witness to the devastation of the Korean War. He volunteered for the People’s Army, but was rejected because he was underweight. 

He became a Zen Buddhist monk in the 1950s, and returned to secular life sometime in the 1960s.

Ko Un became an activist opposing the harsh and arbitrary rule of South Korea’s president, President Park Chung-hee. His dissident activities led to several terms of imprisonment and torture.

The democratization of South Korea in the late 1980s finally gave Ko Un the freedom to travel to other countries, including a visit to the United States and make a spiritual journey through India. (from Poetry Chaikhana)

A Long Night 

We put up a tent for the night
between Shigatse and Latse.
As soon as the tent was up
a storm broke.
The tent shook as if about to fly away.

The water rose
up the river bank,
and with it the loud sound of the stream.

Shortly before, our water had boiled at 80 Centigrade.
Not anything like 100.
My anxiety and resignation had boiled away with it.

February 28, 2011

Afghan Poetic Identity Today

Filed under: Afghan — Tags: , , , — razvan @ 2:08 am

When the BBC’s War correspondent Jonathan Charles made an appeal for Afghan civilians to send in their war poetry, little did he anticipate the flood of writing it would inspire. Here, he explores a selection of those poems and interviews the authors. The writers have many stories to tell which have inspired haunting poetry. Verse has, for some, become the best way of expressing not only the sights and sounds of the war, but the emotions. This is poetry of witness, of anger, propaganda, and it’s a catharsis. While Jonathan was interviewing one poet, the writer suddenly revealed that he had been the finance minister of Afghanistan in the 1970s and later lived under house arrest. He has turned away from politics and is now writing poetry.

Complete story and the voices of Afgan poetry, on BBC site

December 10, 2010

A poem by Liu Xiaobo, Nobel Laureate for Peace in 2010

Filed under: chinese, chinese — Tags: , , , , , , — razvan @ 1:17 pm

The writer that caused all the stir at the Nobel Prize for Peace ceremony in 2010 is Liu Xiaobo. As he is still in jail in China for political reasons, the presence of foreign ambassadors in Oslo for the ceremony became a problem of diplomatic offence for Chinese officials. It looks like it is for the first time from 1936 when the prize is not received by the laureate or by someone from his family. Last time the laureate was living in Germany in nazi regime. According to news reports, this time the Chinese authorities placed even the wife of Liu Xiaobo under house arrest.

The Chinese reaction was not so hard to guess: “What on earth has Liu Xiaobo ever contributed to human peace?”.

China’s propaganda apparatus first put the spotlight on Liu’s allegedly treasonous views in the aftermath of the Tiananmen crackdown. Liu was jailed for his role in the student protests – and targeted for vitriolic attack by the official media. Liu, said the People’s Daily at the time, is a “traitor from head to toe.” (washingtonpost)

How can look a poem by someone that is convicted 11 years for “inciting subversion of state power”?

Longing to Escape 

for my wife
abandon the imagined martyrs
I long to lie at your feet, besides
being tied to death this is
my one duty
when the heart’s mirror-
clear, an enduring happiness
your toes will not break
a cat closes in behind
you, I want to shoo him away
as he turns his head, extends
a sharp claw toward me
deep within his blue eyes
there seems to be a prison
if I blindly step out
of with even the slightest
step I’d turn into a fish

8. 12. 1999

from Pen American Center

Liu Xiaobo is a political activist, university lecturer and author who has fought for a more democratic and open China for more than 20 years. His poetry collection was acquired by Graywolf editor Jeffrey Shotts (more…)

December 7, 2010

Contemporary poetry from Syria by Nadim Alwazzeh

Filed under: Arabic, Asian, Syrian — razvan @ 12:47 am

Nadim Alwazzeh is a Syrian poet and founder of the poet website and editor of Ugarit electronic magazine http://www.ugaritemagazine.com/. from here

The video beneath says it features poetry by rohit gupta, buttermere and nadim alwazzeh

رحلة لم تتمّ
نديم الوزه

A Journey which has not been completed

Nadim Alwazzeh

(Syrian poet)


أبي أتى من جبال اللاذقية, و لا أدري إذا ما كان طلب الرزق وحده يكفي للتخلّي عن طبيعة خضراء؟

My father has come from the mountains of Lattakia, and I don’t know whether asking for livelihood only is enough to forsake a green nature


أنا ولدت في دمشق كي أعيش فقيراً، شاعراً بتفاهة الفقر، و لا أعتقد أنني سأعيش مرتاحاً إلا بقدرة قادر!

I was born in Damascus to live poor, feeling the silliness of poverty, and I don’t think that I’ll live comfortable except by the power of a capable


تبقى الحياة في دمشق أفضل منها في بيروت، على الأقل تجاوزنا المرحلة التاريخية لملوك الطوائف. (more…)

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