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Night-Sky Checkerboard

Night-Sky Checkerboard

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By Oh Sae-young
Translated from the Korean by Brother Anthony of Taizé

Sae-young’s first English language release translated from the original Korean, Night-Sky Checkerboard, features heart-rendering, explorative poems fixated on existence and humanity's scarring impact on nature through industrial society.

Publication Date: May 10, 2016

Paperback: 9781939419477


Night-Sky Checkerboard introduces English-language readers to the imagistic lyricism of a Korean master at the peak of his powers. As a young poet fascinated by Modernism, Oh Sae-young attempted to reproduce the inner landscapes of the dislocated self produced by industrial society before arriving at the more existentialist concerns that dominate his work today.

The present volume, fluidly translated by Brother Anthony of Taizé, reflects Oh Sae-young’s harmonious fusion of image with idea, with woodpeckers pecking secret coded messages, the farmer finding the ground’s erogenous zones, and a cloud factory on strike.

Biographical Note

Oh Sae-Young was born in Yongkwang, South Jeolla Province, in 1942. He has published some twelve volumes of poetry as well as a number of volumes of literary essays and has received several awards for his work. His poetry as a whole is characterized by the pursuit of a harmonious fusion of the lyrical with the ideological and the desire to give new formal expression to tradition using the techniques of Modernism. He is now an Emeritus Professor at the Seoul National University.

Brother Anthony of Taizé is a translator, scholar, and member of the Taizé Community who has become a naturalized Korean citizen. He lives in Seoul.


"His poems wait outside asking for answers, seeking some reason to come in from the cold. ... Sae-young’s attention to detail, and his ability to shift back and forth between scopes both grand and minuscule, provide a sense that his poems are inextricably linked to something larger.” Mark Magoon, Chicago Review of Books

“Simple, beautifully rendered sadness rises from the poems in Night-Sky Checkerboard, while just below is the bite and sting of the poet’s judgment of humanity in the twentieth century.” —Frank Stewart, Korean Literature Now