The conversation then turned to the ways in which poetry is performed in Korea, and the various modes of publication in Australia. While in Korea it is most common for poets to ‘make their debut’ in a literary periodical or competition, the practice of literary publication differs somewhat in Australia, and the Korean poets were very interested to hear about the way it works.
In terms of performance, while in Australia there are arguably a wide range of venues in which poets can perform, in Korea the opportunities for reading and performance are rather limited, and constrained at times by the practice of piping classical music through the speakers while a trained performer (not the poet) reads the verse aloud. Despite this ‘traditional’ practice, the Korean poets also indicated that other spaces for performance – including some slams, salons and speakeasies – do exist.
The overall impression we gained from this event was that Korean poets do not necessarily have many opportunities to present and discuss their works with foreign poets. In this respect, the seminar was a rare chance for the poets from both countries to introduce themselves in an informal and warm setting.
The event would not have been possible without the assistance of Kim Min-jeong, whose translations back and forth between the Australian and Korean poets provided a crucial thread which facilitated understanding and exchange.
In addition, the provision of written translations of each of the poets’ work on the day helped immeasurably. For this, our thanks to Kim Gaihyun and Kim Sunghyun, who worked so hard on the translation of the Australian poets’ works into Hangul, and Peter Lee, Eun Gwi Chung and Krys Lee, who worked on the translations of the Korean poets featured above.
We look forward to bringing you the third part of our Oz-Ko issue, which will feature the works of all four poets profiled here, as well as the works of sixteen other contemporary Korean poets, in late June-early July. Stay tuned for that, and for more Oz-Ko goodness!