Born in 1939 in Anso※ng, Kyo※nggi Province, Cho※ng Jin-gyu majored in Korean language and literature at Korea University, Seoul. He currently teaches Korean literature at Hanyang Women's College and works as editor-in-chief of Hyo※ndae Shihak (Contemporary Poetics), a monthly journal. He made his literary debut in 1960, when he won the Donga Ilbo Spring Literary Award. Since then, poetry has been the sole devotion of his life.
He published his first collection of poems, Maru※n susukkangu※i p'yo※nghwa (The Peace of a Dried Kaoliang Stalk) in 1965, and has since then been a prolific writer with ten volumes of poetry, three volumes of collected poems and a collection of literary writings. The volumes of poetry include Yuhanu※i pitjang (The Bolt of Limitedness, 1971), Tu※lp'an u※i piin chipiroda (It is an Empty House in the Field, 1977), Maedallio※issu※m u※i sesang (The World Hanging Upside-down, 1979), Pio※issu※m u※i ch'ungmanu※l uihayo (For the Repletion of Emptiness, 1983) Yo※np'illo ssu※gi (Writing with a Pencil,1984), Ppyo※e taehayo (About Bones, 1986), Momshi (Body Poems, 1994), Alshi (Egg Poems, 1997), and Uri naraen p'ulpat'i mant'a (There are Many Meadows in My Country, 1999). His poetic achievement has been recognized through several awards, such as the Korean Poets' Association Prize, the Woltan Literary Award, and the Contemporary Poetry Award.
The primary feature of his poems lies in their well-structured poetic phrases in colloquial tone. Even the phrases in literary style are often divided, diversified, and juxtaposed to generate unique rhythms. Such rhetorical characteristics serve as a perfect framework for the free association of ideas and images deriving from intuition and meditation, and the liveliness and aesthetic pleasure created by it.
His poems are also marked with earnestness and desperation in the quest for the core of human lives. They are nonetheless full of joy of life and belief in poetry. The recently published Body Poems and Egg Poems demonstrate an especially great sophistication in form and content with linguistic flamboyance and radical style combined with consistent energy, ever-sharpening sensitivity and the wisdom of age.
Writing with a Pencil
Like the man who said that when sharpening a pencil in the
night he could smell the aroma of a soul filling the room I would like to
write poems only with a pencil I am afraid of my life which, once written,
cannot be erased Writing with a pencil Erasable life correctable life sad
preparation of one who wishes to be forgiven I want such life I am always
an imperfect half I wish even the half would be accepted Writing with a
pencil I wish the misled ways could be corrected by each other I would not
be disheartened even if what I've done proudly and truthfully is to be
erased I don't want to leave anything It's not the cowardice of someone who
wants to hide It's love I would like to meet only with the aroma of a soul
There are Throbs of Flowers in Water
I don't remember exactly who it was, but someone said that
throbs of flowers in water in clean water and that in the early dawn in the
early dawn in spring he ploughed through mist and walked grass for a long
while and reached the waterside and heard and saw them with wet feet
He said again that the flower emerging from the water, as
began to lick the dew with its warm tongue, was, oh, an egg the water laid!
Therefore a flower is an egg Therefore water is a womb The
throbs are the
very sound I used to listen to laying my ear on the tummy of my pregnant
wife The good old days
Lick my wound, you, the throbs of flowers in the water!
is bare feet from heaven
is the feather of a soul
They are resting
giving themselves to each other
This summer, one early morning in Deokjin Park in Chonju,
I saw the
sun-beams the beams of the sun plugged themselves into each bud of lotus,
tightly shut Soon they were taking out darkness After a while the pond was
teeming with light of swinging lamps and a dust-cart loaded with slime of
the darkness hastened away Leaving no traces
I made up my mind to start a plug factory I would just plug
bodies then the coins of light, the coins of desire would pour out of your
bodies, slot-machines! Sunlight-machines! I made up my mind to
monopolize the plug factory When the blackout cuts out all the plugs I will
be the silver ecstasy for the darkness Violence that shoots violence! I made
up my mind to be a godfather of violence Leaving no traces
Now I've just returned from wandering with bare feet in the
field of your
heart, an enchanting thorn got stuck in my sole! It hasn't swollen or festered
The thorn has become a bone, a new bone that you've made in my flesh The
two hundred and six bones in a man's body, plus one, now I've got the extra
bone, the extra bliss The scar has been healed