Friday, April 22, 2011

English Sijo Masters we can all learn from.

Essentially, there are in fact three main English Sijo masters; a triad if you will. All of them have studied and written extensively about English Sijo. These masters of sijo are Canadian poet Elizabeth St. Jacques, Professor Larry Gross and Harvard Professor David R. McCann.

In 1995 St. Jacques and Gross started a poetry journal for English Sijo called Sijo West. It folded in 1999. In 1976 Professor David R. McCann published an article in the Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies entitled "The Structure o fthe Korean Sijo". Since then he has been working with, writing and studying Sijo in both Korean and English. McCann has been promoting the writing of English Sijo among highschool and elementary school teachers and has recently conducted several seminars on English Sijo writing in the Chicago area.

A great overview of shijo can be found here. It contains several articles from all three Sijo masters. At the bottom is a link that eventually leads to teaching guides for middle and highschool teachers to teach the sijo form in their writing classes. It is a fine alternative to doing haiku and is slightly more challenging for students.

A website containing poems from all three can be seen:
Here with the Sejong Society

Hands down, the best website that explains how to write English sijo poems is St.Jacques’ website. It is provides an excellent step by step guide to writing a Sijo.
In the west, it seems sijo writing is catching on. Since 2008 the Sejong Cultural Association has been holding a highschool Sijo writing contest. Every year, more and more students are submitting English Sijo poems to the contest. Here’s one of the winners from 2009:

First place - Creasy Clauser
A single sole was lost today, deep in the river Yalu,
Thrashing, twisting, torn to shreds with color quickly fading.
On the bridge a small boy laughs, holding out his empty shoe.

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