Conversing in Sijo With A Dead Korean Poet

My favorite Korean poetry book.

My favorite Korean poetry book.

One of my favorite forms of poetry is a Korean form known as the sijo. I have written a number of sijo myself. Rather than keeping a list of the rules of the sijo at hand when I begin to write, I copy out one ancient sijo (in English translation) onto my page before I begin to write. Sometimes I only use it to remind me of the syllable count. Other times the ancient poem affects the new one.

Once I had a sort of ‘conversation’ with an ancient unknown Korean poet as I used this sijo-writing method. And so I decided to share the poem with you, my loyal blog audience. If you don’t care for poetry, I intend to close with a Cute Kitty Picture. Everyone needs more Cute Kitty Pictures.

My house is so deep in the woods…

My house is so deep in the woods

That the cuckoo sings in the daytime.

Out here beyond valleys and peaks,

The brushwood gate is pulled shut.


Even the dog, who has forgotten how to bark,

Naps while flowers fall.

anonymous ancient Korean poet

And here is my response:

the dog who forgets barking

what is wrong with that dog

who has forgotten how 2 bark?

in the deep woods there are

no visitors to warn


but surely the dog could bark

at rabbits or birds or moonlight

(c) Feb 2, 2012, Nissa Annakindt




Sijos in Erileth

In my Erileth series, in the North Element of the pangaia-like Important Continent, the people— largely descended from Koreans and other Asians— are expected to be able to write sijo and other poems routinely. In fact, government bureaucrats are required to write all reports in poetry— sijo and certain other forms such as ‘foreign’ haiku and tanka. It tends to encourage brevity in such things.

Where the Opium Cactus Grows

I have a poetry book out, Where the Opium Cactus Grows. It was published in 2010 but since I was too shy to promote the book or my poetry, I only made 8 sales so far. I am putting together a second poetry book, but while the poetry I’ve written since Opium Cactus shows improved poetry skills, there is less of it. I had thought of including the best poems from Opium Cactus in the new volume and discontinuing Opium Cactus. My new book will be called Waiting For the Poison Shot after a line from a prolife poem (a sijo) that will be included in the collection.

If you are one of the 8 that bought Opium Cactus, I’d like your opinion on whether I should discontinue it. Or perhaps I should come out with a revised edition of it? There is a typo in one of the poems that haunts me…. I’d like to make it available in Kindle so the cost will be within the reach of impoverished, disabled poets like me. What do you think?

To buy Where the Opium Cactus Grows ($6.98, Amazon Prime eligible):


This is Umberto. She’s a girl kitten.

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