Sunday 5 May 2013

1 Poem by Yearn Hong Choi

Ode to Sleep

a suckling babe fell asleep in mom’s breast
a sleeping grandson slumped next to grandpa
a poet dozing off held in lover’s arms
a dude falling asleep in barber’s chair
a migrant worker snoring in the bouncing truck on a country road
tired out soldiers dead asleep oblivious of shellfires and smokes
peace, deep peace is birthed inside abyss of sleep
within repose are gentle waves and sea birds of home port
beyond the scent of pines stretches the sleepy sandy beach


Yearn Hong Choi is a prolific and distinguished writer who has won awards in Korea and the US with six books of poetry and one collection of short stories. His essays and short stories appeared in prestigious journals such as Short Story International and World Literature Today. In 1994, he became the first poet from Korea to be invited to read at the Library of Congress; Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Gwendolyn Brooks introduced Choi by reading a poem she wrote about him.  He served as executive director of the Korean PEN Center and edited Korean Literature Today. He founded the Korean Poets and Writers Group and the Korean-American Poets' Group in Washington, DC. A Ph.D in political science and public administration from Indiana University, he has written extensively on current issues in Korea and Korean-US relations, worked for the federal government, and taught at the University of Wisconsin, Old Dominion University, the University of the District of Columbia, and the University of Seoul, retiring in 2006. With Haeng-Ja Kim he published the first anthology of Korean-American literature, Surfacing Sadness: A Centennial Celebration of Korean-American Literature, 1903-2003. He also edited three landmark anthologies of Korean-American poetry: Mother and Dove, Fragrance of Poetry: Korean-American Literature, and An Empty House: Korean American Poetry. He has published three  poetry books in English, Autumn Vocabularies (Writers' Workshop, 1990),  Moon of New York (PublishAmerica, 2008) and Copenhagen’s Bicycle (PublishAmerica, 2010) and four poetry books in the Korean language. His memoir, Song of Myself: A Korean-American Life, was published by Poetic Matrix Press in 2010.

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