108 Zen Sijo Poems
Oh-hyun Cho & Heinz Insu Fenkl
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Cho Oh-Hyun was born in Miryang, South Gyeongsang Province, Korea and has lived in retreat in the mountains since becoming a novice monk at the age of seven. Writing under the Buddhist name Musan, he has composed hundreds of poems in seclusion, many in the sijo form, a relatively fixed syllabic style similar to Japanese haiku and tanka. This collection of 108 Zen sijo poems (108 representing the number of klesas, or defilements,” one must overcome to attain enlightenment) features beautiful examples of Cho Oh-Hyun’s award-winning work and the expressive possibilities of sijo. These transfixing poems play with traditional religious and metaphysical themes and include a number of story” sijo poems, a longer, less traditional style that is one of Cho Oh-Hyun’s major innovations. An introduction by Kwon Youngmin, emeritus professor at Seoul National University and a major scholar of sijo, supplies a contextualizing introduction.