by Oh Sae-young
translated from the Korean by Brother Anthony of Taizé
Night-Sky Checkerboard introduces English-language readers to the imagistic lyricism of a Korean master at the peak of his powers. As a young poet fascinated by Modernism, Oh Sae-young attempted to reproduce the inner landscapes of the dislocated self produced by industrial society before arriving at the more existentialist concerns that dominate his work today.
The present volume, fluidly translated by Brother Anthony of Taizé, reflects Oh Sae-young's harmonious fusion of image and idea, with woodpeckers pecking secret coded messages, the farmer discovering the ground's erogenous zones, and a cloud factory on strike.
Press and Reviews
"[Oh] has a thirst for Korea’s mountains and rivers. He has a thirst for a universe beyond the generations. For him, it seems, even ordinary things have a will before expression. That’s why it is. Oh Sae-Young’s poetry soaks me in a metaphysical longing for home." -Ko Un
"From start to finish, Night-Sky Checkerboard is questioning, somber, and beautiful. Readers will enjoy a flowering, artistic start as each piece is first presented in Sae-young’s native Korean with English translations following after. And though many of Sae-young’s poems start slow, he truly has a knack for and a keen understanding of how to finish. An end is good, satisfying, only when things all come together naturally." -Mark Magoon
Oh Sae-young was born in Yongkwang, South Jeolla Province, in 1942. He has published some twelve volumes of poetry as well as a number of volumes of literary essays, and has received several awards for his work. His poetry as a whole is characterized by the pursuit of a harmonious fusion of the lyrical with the ideological, and the desire to give new formal expression to tradition using the techniques of Modernism. He is now an Emeritus Professor at the Seoul National University.
Brother Anthony of Taizé is a translator, scholar, and member of the Taizé Community who has become a naturalized Korean citizen. He lives in Seoul.
Cover art by Maggie Chiang