Maninbo: Peace & War
Ko Un has long been a living legend in Korea, both as a poet and as a person. Allen Ginsberg once wrote, 'Ko Un is a magnificent poet, combination of Buddhist cognoscente, passionate political libertarian, and naturalist historian.' Maninbo (Ten Thousand Lives) is the title of a remarkable collection of poems by Ko Un, filling thirty volumes, a total of 4001 poems containing the names of 5600 people, which took 30 years to complete. Ko Un first conceived the idea while confined in a solitary cell upon his arrest in May 1980, the first volumes appeared in 1986, and the project was completed 25 years after publication began, in 2010. Unsure whether he might be executed or not, he found his mind filling with memories of the people he had met or heard of during his life. Finally, he made a vow that, if he were released from prison, he would write poems about each of them. In part this would be a means of rescuing from oblivion countless lives that would otherwise be lost, and also it would serve to offer a vision of the history of Korea as it has been lived by its entire population through the centuries. A selection from the first 10 volumes of Maninbo relating to Ko Un's village childhood was published in the US in 2006 by Green Integer under the title Ten Thousand Lives. This edition is a selection from volumes 11 to 20, with the last half of the book focused on the sufferings of the Korean people during the Korean War. Essentially narrative, each poem offers a brief glimpse of an individual's life. Some span an entire existence, some relate a brief moment. Some are celebrations of remarkable lives, others recall terrible events and inhuman beings. Some poems are humorous, others are dark commemorations of unthinkable incidents. They span the whole of Korean history, from earliest pre-history to the present time.
- Paperback | 272 pages
- 138 x 216 x 10.16mm | 430.91g
- 05 Apr 2015
- BLOODAXE BOOKS LTD
- Tyne and Wear, United Kingdom
This volume serves as a testimony, a monumental feat of remembrance memorializing the lives of ordinary people interrupted by extraordinary events. * World Literature Today *
About Ko Un
Born in 1933 in Gunsan, North Jeolla Province, Korea, Ko Un is Korea's foremost living writer. After immense suffering during the Korean War, he became a Buddhist monk. His first poems were published in 1958, his first collection in 1960. A few years later he returned to the world. After years of dark nihilism, he became a leading spokesman in the struggle for freedom and democracy during the 1970s and 1980s, when he was often arrested and imprisoned. He has published more than 150 volumes of poems, essays, and fiction, including the monumental seven-volume epic Mount Paekdu and the 30-volume Maninbo (Ten Thousand Lives) series. In recent years, more than thirty volumes of translations of his work have been published in some twenty languages. A selection from the first 10 volumes of Maninbo relating to Ko Un's village childhood was published in the US by Green Integer in 2006 under the title Ten Thousand Lives. A selection from the second 10 volumes was published by Bloodaxe Books in 2015 under the title Maninbo 2: Peace and War. Ko Un's most recent poetry was translated by Brother Anthony of Taize and Lee Sang-Wha and published by Bloodaxe in 2012 in First Person Sorrowful. Ko Un was chosen as the winner of the Golden Wreath, one of the world's most prestigious awards for poetry, for 2014. The Golden Wreath is awarded for a body of work, and will be presented to Ko Un at a ceremony in Struga, Macedonia, during the international poetry festival Struga Poetry Evenings in 2014.