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Cosmic AnnyeongHa Jae-youn

I leave these poems for the child, disappearing, drawing question marks over the stories it never told, and Mother with her back turned, walking away, with words she hadn’t finished hearing piled on her back. Like footsteps that follow. - Foreword

『Cosmic Annyeong』

Author : Ha Jae-youn
Publisher : Moonji
Publication date : April 24, 2019
Number of pages : 143
Format : 128x205mm
ISBN : 9788932035345

Ha Jae-youn

A Korean language and literature major of Korea University, she also studied modern literature at her alma mater’s graduate school. She is presently a research professor at the Humanities Research Center of Wonkwang University. Besides her research, she also writes poetry and has published collections such as Radio Days and Like All The Beaches in the World.

Invitation to an Infinitely Proliferating World


“Annyeong”(안녕, hello/goodbye) is a word that can be used when meeting for the first time or when bidding goodbye. Is the poet’s “annyeong” a greeting or a farewell? If the poetry were a linear arrangement of the end and the beginning, finding an appropriate answer might have seemed easy. However, Ha Jae-youn’s poetry breaks off the familiar linear concept of space-time, absorbing and jumbling everything in that world into the crack between the two. In this world it seems impossible to interpret “annyeong” in the sense we are familiar with. Ha Jae-youn’s “annyeong” creates a completely different significance and acts as a word with new possibilities. A world of infinite expansion with no discernible end, I hand to you a “cosmic annyeong,” Ha Jae-youn’s greeting and/or farewell, starting and ending with “ㅇ.”


Here is a world where rather strange things happen. Ten goby minnows are returned to the sea, only to be found to be freshwater fish; of ten fireworks lit to celebrate a birthday only seven go off (“Yangyang”); the wing of a probe unfolds at an unfortunate moment (“Spirit and Opportunity”). At the end of the narrative that doesn’t look like the end, just as you wonder why it ends like this, does Ha Jae-youn’s poetic world open up.


In order to take a closer look at Ha’s poetry, we need to look at the “time” that passes through her collection of poems. The time we live through is a linear time, a time that only runs forward, at the same interval, whether per minute or per second, so as you live through it second by second, the days go by before you know it.


Ha Jae-youn’s time, on the other hand, is somewhat suspicious. In the book, time does not fly in a straight line, but appears as a flow through open cracks. The flow of trickling-down time seems to hold, not a straight line, but a nonlinear figure that twirls around and around like a child’s finger drawing a fractal triangle. Consequently, in this world, a phrase like a “future from long ago” (“The Revolution of Mars”) doesn’t sound strange at all. Because, as the time of the past, somewhere along the line, catches the tail of the future, and as we follow and turn along the ring of time, the future may turn into a point in time that we passed by long ago.


They say the shape of falling snowflakes isn’t perfect.

Fractal, you,

You, me, fractal,


You and I only cause each other to multiply, imperfectly


Like a Frankenstein of the Arctic, like clouds caught on a glacier

The splitting ice, and scattering faces


– From “Jottings”


Since “the shape of falling snowflakes isn’t perfect,” the end result of the pile remains unpredictable. (Keep in mind that if you keep stacking equilateral triangles you end up with a larger equilateral triangle.) You and I, imperfectly multiplied, exist in completely disparate forms, as if we had been stacked up in a separate space and time. As is described in “Sharing a transparent umbrella/ You and I were avoiding different rains” (“Heavy Rain”), though under one transparent umbrella, the raindrops falling on us are completely different. Like raindrops that can never meet even in the heaviest downpour, you and I exist, each alone, in a different space and time.


Can originally, connect to, since when?

To say that there was death before life and death even after death

Is that strange? Can you imagine something else? Within this time where everything melts into

– From “City of Salt”


But at the same time, we may also imagine this. Wouldn’t there have to be small gaps occurring, because the space-time of you and I, who are charting our respective time, isn’t constant? The time into whose gap “where everything melts into,” in the nonlinear space-time that Ha Jae-youn is drawing, “death before life and death even after death” exist. It is also where a poetic imagination is at work, where a world of infinite expandability that absorbs everything, including life and death, is possible. Maybe, just maybe, in Ha Jae-yeon’s world, there might be the tiniest possibility that the things we considered impossible, such as death after death, or the perfect encounter between others, can come to be.

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