I did it again, didn't I? I apologize. But I wasn't kidding when I said that things for me here are really veering off in another direction.
One big thing that's going on right now is that I'm beginning to try to educate myself about Korean literature in general, and Korean poetry in particular. Do you know how unbelievably stupid it is trying to get your hands on Korean poetry books in English in Korea? Really unbelievably stupid.
General kinds of anthologies or the really basic big names are easy enough. But. When you're ready to dig into American poetry, you don't want to just read Leaves of Grass, do you? Leaves of Grass is fucking incredible and American and epitomizing and complicated and all that junk. But I can't just read Leaves of Grass and know American poetry. You can't even just read Leaves of Grass and know Whitman.
The issue, I think, is that I generally learn about poets based on their oeuvre. When I start reading a new poet, it consumes two or three months of my focus. I don't just read one book. I read every fucking book. I want to see the whole story, from beginning to end. I want to read the biography. I want to read the philosophy. I want to read the essays and the personal letters. I want to see who their contemporaries were, and read their shit. I want to see who their mentors and their proteges were, and read that shit. I've been trained to think of poetry as occurring in schools. I have this obsessive compulsive need to look at the entire school, before I can say I understand the poet.
Try doing that in English in Korea. If you can get your hands on two books in translation by the same poet, you should count yourself lucky. Finding a comprehensive biography written in English? A fucking unicorn.
I'm pissed off about it, but also excited. I'd be more excited if I were fluent in Korean. Or even conversational in Korean. Right now, excited is kind of looking more like frustrated. But big tasks are always frustrating in the beginning. That's what makes them exciting.
Yeah. I know you don't give a shit. I've avoided talking about poetry in this blog for three years because I know nobody gives a shit. But if you want an update, right now, this is what it's going to look like.
What are you expecting, right now? Some big claim about how I'm going to become fluent in Korean and then single-handedly bring Korean poetry to the English speaking world? Fuck off. You should know better than that. Just becoming fluent in Korean is enough of a decade-long task for me at the moment. But there's a lot of shit to be done in the area, isn't there?
This is the part where readers I didn't even know I had come out of the woodwork and solve all my problems for me by pointing out all the places where I can easily find books and biographies in English by/about Korean poets. That's the real point of making this post. Ready, set, go.