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Fifteen Seconds without Sorrow
Translated by Chung Eun-Gwi and Brother Anthony of Taizé
Free Verse Editions
Edited by Jon Thompson
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Like many younger Korean poets, Shim Bo-Seon writes in an allusive, indirect style about topics that are in themselves familiar, eating rice, taking off clothes, living in an apartment block, struggling with human relationships. He captures some sparkling moments of joys and sorrows, hopes and frustrations that have been concealed in daily life in rather modest and witty words. The circular movements of concealment and revelation of the mystery that an individual experiences are evoked in turn, always lightly. As a poet-critic, Shim fills his lines with the melodies of plain speech, with subtle thoughts about relationships in the world.
Shim made his poetic debut in 1994, but he only published his first collection fourteen years later in 2008. Fifteen Seconds without Sorrow is a translation of that first volume, containing the poet's earliest, freshest poems. They are characterized by the subtlest feeling of the distance between fantasy and reality and a strong awareness of the difficulty of saying something significant simply. Shim raises the philosophical question of the meaning of living as a human being in the world, that is, where one is in this world at a certain moment. His poems epitomize the doubts, values, beliefs, and distance of the individual passing through the ordinary days and nights.
About the Poet
Shim Bo-Seon was born in Seoul in 1970, studied sociology at Seoul National University, and received his PhD from Columbia University, New York. He made his debut in the Chosun Ilbo Annual Spring Literary Contest in 1994 and published his first collection, Seulpeumi opneun sip o cho (Fifteen Seconds without Sorrow), in 2008. This was followed by Nunape opneun saram (Someone Not in Sight ) in 2011 and Geueurin yesul (Smoked Art) in 2013. He is currently a professor of Culture and Art Management at Kyung-Hee Cyber University. He is also a member of the Twenty-First Century Prospect Writer's Group.
About the Translators
Chung Eun-Gwi is Associate Professor in the Department of English Literature at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Seoul. She received her PhD in Poetics at SUNY Buffalo in 2005. Her publications include articles, translations, poems, and reviews in various journals, including In/Outside: English Studies in Korea, Comparative Korean Studies, World Literature Today, Cordite, and Azalea. Brother Anthony of Taizé is currently Emeritus Professor of English at Sogang University, and Chair-Professor at the International Creative Writing Center, Dankook University. He has published more than thirty volumes of translated Korean poetry, as well as translations of several Korean novels, for which he has received a number of awards. His Korean name is An Sonjae.