From Early on, I by Choe Seung-ja

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Darcy L. Brandel

Photography by Im Eung-shik

From Early on, I by Choe Seung-ja

From early on I was nothing.
Mold flowering on dry bread
wet urine stains on a wall, layers upon layers of urine
a corpse dead over a thousand years
still covered with maggots.

No parents reared me.
I lived sleeping in a rat hole and leeching off of the wretched
dying anywhere endlessly
from early on I was nothing.

So when we brush by momentarily
like falling meteors
do not tell me you know me
Idonotknowyou Idonotknowyou
YouThouBeloved, Happiness
You, Thou, Beloved, Love

That I exist
is nothing more than an everlasting rumor.

일찍이 나는

일찍이 나는 아무것도 아니었다.
마른 빵에 핀 곰팡이
벽에다 누고 또 눈 지린 오줌 자국
아직도 구더기에 뒤덮인 천년 전에 죽은 시체.

아무 부모도 나를 키워 주지 않았다
쥐구멍에서 잠들고 벼룩의 간을 내먹고
아무 데서나 하염없이 죽어 가면서
일찍이 나는 아무것도 아니었다.

떨어지는 유성처럼 우리가
잠시 스쳐갈 때 그러므로,
나를 안다고 말하지 말라.
나는너를모른다 나는너를모른다,
너당신그대, 행복
너, 당신, 그대, 사랑

내가 살아 있다는 것,
그것은 영원한 루머에 지나지 않는다.

(Originally published in The Gwangju News, March 2012)

Choe Seung-ja (1952- ) was born in Yongi, Chungcheongnam-do. She studied German literature at Korea University. Her poetry collections include Love in This AgeA Pleasant DiaryThe House of MemoryMy Grave—GreenLovers, and Forlorn and Faraway. Often employing extreme, radical language and imagery, she writes to resist social discrimination, especially patriarchy.

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Autumn Like a Dog by Choe Seung-ja

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Darcy L.Brandel

Photography by Lee Sang-youp

Autumn Like a Dog by Choe Seung-ja

Autumn invades like a dog.
An autumn like syphilis
and death visits on
twilight’s paralyzed leg.

Everything loses moisture
the borders of roads wear down
the old singer’s voice on a record warps
hello, is this Jooksun? Hey Jooksun? Jooksun?
a phone line loses a receiver in the empty air
and lovers who leave never return, not even in dreams.

And at time’s barroom where memory’s stagnated water
reeks endlessly of horse piss
I, disheveled, ask in the voice of a person waking from a coma
How far have we come? How far should we go
to see the river turning into the sea?

개 같은 가을이

개같은 가을이 쳐들어온다.
매독같은 가을.
그리고 죽음은, 황혼 그 마비된
한 쪽 다리에 찾아온다.

모든 사물이 습기를 잃고
모든 길들의 경계선이 문드러진다.
레코드에 담긴 옛 가수의 목소리가 시들고
여보세요 죽선이 아니니 죽선이지 죽선아
전화선이 허공에서 수신인을 잃고
한번 떠나간 애인들은 꿈에도 다시 돌아오지 않는다.

그리고 그리고 괴어있는 기억의 폐수가
한없이 말 오줌 냄새를 풍기는 세월의 봉놋방에서
나는 부시시 죽었다 깨어난 목소리로 묻는다.
어디 만큼 왔나 어디까지 가야
강물은 바다가 될 수 있을까?

(Originally published in The Gwangju News, March 2012)

Choe Seung-ja (1952- ) was born in Yongi, Chungcheongnam-do. She studied German literature at Korea University. Her poetry collections include Love in This Age, A Pleasant Diary, The House of Memory, My Grave—Green, Lovers, and Forlorn and Faraway. Often employing extreme, radical language and imagery, she writes to resist social discrimination, especially patriarchy.

I Remember by Choe Seung-ja

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Darcy L. Brandel

Photography by Lee Sang-youp

I Remember by Choe Seung-ja

The road has disappeared
the road existed for sure
the road I ran on over and over

Time, where the road disappeared
is infested with darkness

(Shuttered-down shops
the shops of darkness with their lights out
where only invisible footsteps scurry)

The decade is disappearing
I don’t see the road yet
but I remember for sure
the road was there
the road I ran on over and over

나는 기억하고 있다

길이 없었다
분명 길이 있었는데
뛰고 뛰던 길이 있었는데

길 끊어진 시간 속에서
어둠만이 들끓고 있었다

(셔터가 내려진 상가
보이지 않는 발자국들만 저벅거리는
불 꺼진 어둠의 상가)

그 십여 년 고요히 끝나가고 있다
아직은 길이 보이지 않는다
그러나 분명 길이 있었음을
뛰고 뛰던 길이 있었음을
나는 기억하고 있다

(Originally published in The Gwangju News, March 2012)

Choe Seung-ja (1952- ) was born in Yongi, Chungcheongnam-do. She studied German literature at Korea University. Her poetry collections include Love in This Age, A Pleasant Diary, The House of Memory, My Grave—Green, Lovers, and Forlorn and Faraway. Often employing extreme, radical language and imagery, she writes to resist social discrimination, especially patriarchy.


On a Faraway Sea by Choe Seung-ja

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Darcy L. Brandel

Photography by Lee Sang-youp

On a Faraway Sea by Choe Seung-ja

On a faraway sea
the moon wafts effortlessly

In the empty sky one quiet eye
watches the world

The beloved eye that Rumi wooed
(a mystic scene on the sea of time)

On a faraway sea
the moon wafts effortlessly

머나먼 바다 위에

머나먼 바다 위에
두둥실 달이 떠 있습니다

허공에는 세상을 바라보는
고요한 눈동자 하나가 있습니다

그것은 루미가 사랑했던 님의 눈동자입니다
(신비주의적 시간 바다 위의 풍경입니다)

머나먼 바다 위에
두둥실 달이 떠 있습니다

Choe Seung-ja (1952- ) was born in Yongi, Chungcheongnam-do. She studied German literature at Korea University. Her poetry collections include Love in This Age, A Pleasant Diary, The House of Memory, My Grave—Green, Lovers, and Forlorn and Faraway. Often employing extreme, radical language and imagery, she writes to resist social discrimination, especially patriarchy.


A Child by Choe Seung-ja

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Darcy L. Brandel

Photography by Lee Sang-youp

A Child by Choe Seung-ja

A child is running by.

A sky forever colored gray

Someone crossing the sea
halfheartedly

A century laughing carelessly

 아이가

한 아이가 뛰어간다

하늘은 늘 회색이었다

건성건성 누군가
바다를 건너고 있었다

한 세기가 무심코 웃고 있었다

Choe Seung-ja (1952- ) was born in Yongi, Chungcheongnam-do. She studied German literature at Korea University. Her poetry collections include Love in This Age, A Pleasant Diary, The House of Memory, My Grave—Green, Lovers, and Forlorn and Faraway. Often employing extreme, radical language and imagery, she writes to resist social discrimination, especially patriarchy.

A Time Existed by Choe Seung-ja

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Darcy L. Brandel

Photography by Lee Sang-youp

A Time Existed by Choe Seung-ja

A time existed
A desert existed

In the middle of the desert I was alone
Wind blew above in the sky
and I was hungry and sad

Somewhere a river flowed
(but the sea did not overflow)

Somewhere the sky passed
(but time did not stop)

A time existed

A desert existed

 세월이 있었다

한 세월이 있었다
한 사막이 있었다

그 사막 한가운데서 나 혼자였었다
하늘 위로 바람이 불어가고
나는 배고팠고 슬펐다

어디선가 한 강물이 흘러갔고
(그러나 바다는 넘치지 않았고)

어디선가 한 하늘이 흘러갔고
(그러나 시간은 멈추지 않았고)

한 세월이 있었다

한 사막이 있었다

Choe Seung-ja (1952- ) was born in Yongi, Chungcheongnam-do. She studied German literature at Korea University. Her poetry collections include Love in This Age, A Pleasant Diary, The House of Memory, My Grave—Green, Lovers, and Forlorn and Faraway. Often employing extreme, radical language and imagery, she writes to resist social discrimination, especially patriarchy.