Here is a poem by Lim Sung-yong, a Chun Tae-il Literature Prize winner who writes poetry at the forefronts of labor. A bunch of his poetry could have been recommended instead including a piece describing his wife crying out loud after drinking traditional Korean wine and another poem talking about his dumb but favorite friend named “Gwang-ryeol.” All other memorable poems have a clear and specific tone of voice. Given his backgrounds as a poet, Lim is inspired more by specifics rather than by abstract concepts, which brings his poems to life when he portrays real persons or his own life.
By contrast, his poem “Words of Cloudy Evening” does not mention any particular real person, event nor dialogue. Nevertheless, it contains and represents how life goes. All layers of life as a whole are piled up in this poem. Indeed, the true essence of every single day lived is compressed and condensed thickly as if whatever matters in life were all stuffed in here. The level of completion of his poem even makes me nod to his effort and labor.
The hidden beauty of this poem lies in making us feel guilty and inconvenient. Not any single line is false nor invalid – warmth erased off; long-tailed contempt; strangers and me who buy lies; and loss of ability to love, which all of us can relate to painfully and inconveniently. When I feel that I have ruined my life, this poem never gets out of my mind. As this comes across as a sad voice, it may imply that there is still hope to love each other and stay warm.