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Ko Un: Poet in the City — Korea’s greatest living poet in East Anglia, London and Oxford

A rare appearance in the UK of the poet who has come closest to winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, but never quite made it. Ko Un will be appearing at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival on 3-4 November, in London on 5 November, Oxford on 6 November and Cambridge on 8 November. (Could he be hanging around in Oxford on 7 November to see PSY? Probably not). Below are the details of his London appearance, and further down the page all the other appearances.

An Evening with Ko Un

Ko Un

A fascinating evening of poetry with Korea’s foremost poet and human rights activist. Ko Un will be joined by former poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion and the event will be introduced by Kate Allan, director of Amnesty International UK.

Featuring Korea’s greatest living poet and writer and his leading English translator, Brother Anthony of Taizé.

Presented by former UK poet laureate, Sir Andrew Motion

From 6.30pm on Monday 5th November 2012 at Amnesty International UK, 17-25 New Inn Yard, London EC2A 3EA. The event itself will start promptly at 7pm

Ko UnPoet in the City and Amnesty International UK are delighted to present an evening in the company of Korea’s greatest living poet and writer.

Ko Un is a poet, essayist, novelist, translator, and literary critic, with an immense literary achievement consisting of more than 130 published books. His poetry ranges from the short lyric to the vast epic sweep of the seven volumes of Paektu-san. The on-going series Maninbo (Ten Thousand Lives) contains short poems evoking one by one all the people Ko Un has met in his life, as an expression of his deep desire to incarnate in his poetry a radical rewriting of modern Korean history.

Ko Un became a human rights activist opposing the harsh military regime of South Korea’s president, President Park Chung-hee. His dissident activities led to repeated terms of detention, imprisonment and torture.

Former Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion, who has written the introduction to Ko Un’s collection First Person Sorrowful, presents this fascinating evening in the company of Ko Un and his English translator Brother Anthony of Taizé.

Featuring poems and extracts in Korean and English translations, this will be a special celebration of a remarkable man. Following his appearance at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival for The Poetry Trust, this event is his only London reading. It also marks the release of First Person Sorrowful, a selection of Ko Un’s poems in English – his first UK book – published by Bloodaxe Books.

Tickets are free but should be reserved via Poet in the City on 07908 367488 or email [email protected]

Aldeburgh, 3-4 November

at The Maltings, Snape

Saturday Nov 3
1. Q&A Ko Un (Dialogue with Naomi Jaffa) Br Anthony interprets
1:45 – 2:30 pm in Peter Pears Recital Room

2. Talk: Korean Poetry Br Anthony
4:15 – 4:45 pm in Kiln Room

Sunday Nov 4
1. Main Reading (Ingrid de Kok, Ko Un, Philip Schultz) Br Anthony reads and interprets 3:30 – 5:15 pm in Britten Studio

Further details:

Oxford, Tuesday 6 Nov

Reading etc 5.30 to 7pm in Wolfson College’s Haldane Room. Free.
Details from Dr. Jay Lewis [email protected] Tel: 01865-(2)84377

Cambridge, Thursday 8 Nov

Reading etc 7:30 pm in Fitzwilliam College auditorium. Free.
Details from Dr Paul Chirico [email protected] 01223 332007

The Book

First Person Sorrowful

2 thoughts on “Ko Un: Poet in the City — Korea’s greatest living poet in East Anglia, London and Oxford

  1. What is the standard for “greatest living poet”?

    Ko is without doubt worthy of recognition, and everyone should be grateful to Brother Anthony for translating him. I’m one among them.

    But Ko is considered to be great in Korea almost exclusively because of the theme and subject matter (almost all are about the Korean race, their plight, history, and so on) and the fact that he is more voluminous than anyone else and that Maninbo is just so massive. Any Korean poet or novelist who writes about the Korean race and writes massive amounts of pages is considered an ethnic saint beyond criticism even of the literary criticism kind. Pak Gyeongni would be another example.

  2. Good question, and personally I’m not really qualified to judge. But I can’t think of a poet who’s better known outside of Korea, and he was hosted here by the UK’s former poet laureate Andrew Motion who thinks highly of him; plus I’m told Allen Ginsberg once commended Ko as “a magnificent poet”

    Are there other candidates for the crown?

    I’m with you on Pak Gyeongni. I struggled to make much headway with T’oji in translation.

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