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Poet Kim Gwang-gyu

Posted May. 26, 2007 03:38,   


“Do not say, “No, it’s not.”/That’s absurd. /Swim with the historical tide. / Flow with the stream…../He said and I slowly nodded.” (from ‘River of No Return’)

These are the lines of a poem by Kim Gwang-gyu (66 years old). His strong message of ‘No, it’s not’ suddenly began to sound absurd to many of his fans.

“Our contemporaries flowing with the current tide/ I can’t catch up with them. /So I just looked at them at the shore. /Those flowing with the stream/ Went away proudly waving their hands.”

This is another part of his poem. The distance between those flowing with the tide and oneself standing at the shore is another name for time. And the river is something else, so those who are going will never come back. That is why the river is a ‘river of no return.’

Kim Gwang-gyu’s new poetry compilation titled, ‘The Gentle Hand of Time’ was released recently. Last year, he resigned as a professor of Hanyang University and became a full-time poet. In his words, it was like ‘leaving a job pushed by hand of time.’

This is his ninth poetry book. He says modestly, “It is fortunate that my last mission for the rest of my life is to devote myself to writing.”

The new subject matter for his new book is ‘growing old’ as you can see in the following lines:

“As if pushing gently/ Invisible hand/ Irreversible time/ Gentle hand” (from ‘a Scratchback’)

“It is like losing a long cherished-diary or -address book.” (from ‘One Day’)

“It is like every part of body which didn’t even know that I exist suddenly beginning to hurt.” (from ‘Cries of a Body’)

“It is like receiving a text message about death of my friend who always claimed he was healthy.” (from ‘a Text Message’)

All of his lines are easily understood, but were not easily written. The writer’s angst stemming from making peace between the 20th Century and the 21st Century are felt in every word of his poems.

He is well known for his everyday writing style. Considering that the current trend in poetry is abstruse experimental writing, Kim’s simple language is a testament that a poem that can be easily understood can be touching as well.

“One dark and silent evening/ Instead of artificial tears of an actor who had a nose job/ Pizza delivery man riding on his bike/ Passersby making noise on the streets/ Dogs barking in the neighborhood/ A lady next-door bickering……../ It’s been a long time that I heard regards of my neighbors.” (from ‘Blackout for a Moment)

One day, a man was watching TV when the power suddenly went off. He couldn’t see anything but he could hear better. Singing insects, falling leaves, and those other overlooked sounds of life suddenly spoke louder to him. He realizes those real sounds, which are supposed to be heard, had been drowned out by the fake crying of a TV actor. In this poem, Kim expresses the importance of drowned-out reality.