Posts Tagged ‘ Korean poetry ’

“Microwave Rice” by Lee Byeong-Ryul – Left/Write Lit

Lee Byeong-Ryul (image source)


“Microwave Rice” (봉지밥)


There was a time when I used to buy microwave rice.
A time when there was no nowhere to put it.
I placed it in pockets, bags,
and hugged it to my chest.
Still, it always grew cold.

Eating it in secret, it became too thin.
But when it made splendid clumps, what I ate became my strength.
There is something your hands reach out to in hunger:
And when there is nowhere else to put it, you fill a bag up with it.
Though it’s filled with love, it’s like carrying your worries.

If you press down on it, it bursts open.
If you don’t empty it, it’s an unfortunate situation
come to have a new taste.
The palm that squeezes the
upside down bag for the grains at the bottom,
is as blank and expressionless as those fingers which strip away love
without knowing where it goes.
Whether the bag’s volume should be further emptied or filled,
this hungering demand for love will fill it till the very end
even through heavy snowfall.
When the wind snatches away the bag,
you could say love has been taken with it.
Who is that wind
who carried off the bag
as if it were filled with rice?


봉지밥을 싸던 시절이 있었지요
담을 데가 없던 시절이지요
주머니에도 가방에도 넣고
가슴팍에도 품었지만
어떻게든 식는 밥이었지요

남몰래 먹느라 까실했으나
잘 뭉쳐 당당히 먹으면 힘도 되는 밥이었지요
고파서 손이 가는 것이 있지요
담을 데가 없어 봉지에 담지요
담아도 종일 불안을 들고 다니는 것 같지요
눌리면 터지고
비우지 않으면 시금시금 변해버리는
이래저래 안쓰러운 형편이지요
밥풀을 떼어먹느라 뒤집은 봉지
그 안쪽을 받치고 있는 손바닥은
사랑을 다 발라낸 뼈처럼
도무지 알 길 없다는 표정이지요
더 비우거나 채워야 할 부피룰
폭설이 닥치더라도 고프게 받으라는 이 요구를
마지막까지 봉지는 담고 있는지요
바람이 봉지를 채 간다고
사랑 하나 치웠다 할 수 있는지요
밥을 채운 듯 부풀어
봉지를 들고 가는
저 바람은 누군지요


“Microwave Rice” (봉지밥) originally appeared in  Daum – 70 Representative Korean Poets.

Source: “Microwave Rice” by Lee Byeong-Ryul – Left/Write Lit


The Female Grotesque / Ruth Williams interviews Kim Hyesoon

Why Can’t We

by Kim Hyesoon translated from the Korean by Don Mee Choi December 2007

leave Buddha alone? We make Buddha ride an elephant like the way a village boy rides on a man’s shoulder, and we let Buddha run and play, then make him cry, and we make him couple blissfully with a buttery woman and call it Tantra, but then we make him smile by himself in emptiness, make him sit, lie down, make him be born from the waist, then teach him how to walk right away, and we question him when he lies down to sleep You said this and that didn’t you? and we braid his fingers, cut off his nose and swallow it down with water, then dress him in gold, but then we cut his throat and sell his head at a store in Insadong, and we lock him up inside a cave on top of a mountain, and as if that weren’t enough we keep him inside a rock, starve him, paint his skin gold so that he can’t even breathe, have him stand far away on top of a mountain and caress him slowly as we approach him by boat, and beneath his feet we beg him to beat us up. Why can’t we leave him alone? We build a house on a cliff overlooking a blue river and lock him up, and a bunch of us go together to gawk at him. We pummel him, crush him, and push him over, then we come home and write a letter of apology in blood from our pierced fingers, and we pull his teeth and divide them up into numerous pouches and give them out to the whole world, and why do we go near him and bow on our knees till they are raw and look once into his eyes then return home with our downcast faces?

Kim Hyesoon is a prominent South Korean poet who has received numerous prestigious literary awards. She teaches creative writing at Seoul Institute of the Arts. Translations of her poetry are available in When the Plug Gets Unplugged (Tinfish Press, 2005) and Anxiety of Words: Contemporary Poetry by Korean Women (Zephyr Press, 2006). Her next book of poems in translation, Mommy Must be a Fountain of Feather, is forthcoming from Action Books, 2008.

Don Mee Choi lives in Seattle. Her poems have recently appeared in Action Yes, Cipher, Fairy Tale Review, La Petite Zine, and Tinfish.

The Female Grotesque / Interview with South Korean Poet Kim Hyesoon

Thanks to filmmaker Pamela Robertson-Pearce for passing this on.