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Poetry Thu Nov 14 2013

Savoring Syllables at the Poetry Foundation's Sijo Celebration

If you happen to have a simultaneous hankering for poetry and free Korean food this weekend, you're in luck. The Poetry Foundation's Poetry off the Shelf: Sijo Poetry with David McCann (held at their headquarters at 61 W. Superior) will explore the pleasures of the Korean poetic form sijo before a reception with traditional snacks, held at 3pm this Saturday, November 16.

urban_temple.jpgThe event will be more workshop than lecture--attendees will include students who entered the Sejong Cultural Society's sijo contest this year--and all participants are encouraged to apply what they learn to an original work of poetry during class. That shouldn't be as daunting as it may sound: sijo is something like a roomier haiku, its three lines containing 14-16 syllables each instead of haiku's 5-7-5 pattern. That leaves a lot more space for stormy human emotion alongside images borrowed from the natural world, and for humor as well as heartbreak in the signature "twist" of the poem's final line--as in the gentle 14th-century joke on aging in the earliest known sijo (tr. Larry E. Gross):

The spring breeze melted snow on the hills then quickly disappeared.
I wish I could borrow it briefly to blow over my hair
And melt away the aging frost forming now about my ears.

You can find some of McCann's own takes on the form in his collection Urban Temple: Sijo, Twisted and Straight.

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