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Festival Postscript 2: Free Talks (23 September)

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Festival Postscript 2: Free Talks (23 September)



The 2014 Seoul International Writers’ Festival kicked off with a welcome address delivered by President Kim Seong-kon. He said that since this year’s theme was “Eros and Dream,” which were the driving force that sustained life and helped literature flourish, he hoped the 2014 SIWF would be an occasion for all participants to reach beyond what man and literature had dreamed. Cherishing the same wish in their hearts, the participating writers and audience members cheered him with rapturous applause. Next, it was time for the “Free Talk” sessions to begin.






Free Talk Session 1: Poets Kim Haengsook & Yuan Tian (China) / Moderator: Kang Yu-jung


Poet Yuan Tian writes poetry in both his mother tongue Chinese, as well as Japanese. Poetess Kim Haengsook inquired whether he felt a conflict between the two languages while composing poetry. Yuan Tian replied that he had come to contemplate over his mother tongue even more while learning and using Japanese. That while as a poet he could best express his soul through his mother tongue, at the same time as a poet who had to polish and prune his language, the interaction of languages stimulated him. Kim revealed she was expectant that the useless and powerless tool of poetry would provide new hope in the age of violent language. Yuan Tian also added that a poet has to fight endlessly with time and his own limits in order to create poetry that is invariable and not simply a product for one-time consumption.









Free Talk Session 2: Poets Lee Jenny and Akiko Fujiwara (Japan) / Moderator: Kang Yu-jung


Lee Jenny said that she instinctively felt Akiko Fujiwara was an intriguing poetess the instant she came across her anthology at a bookstore 
while travelling in Japan. That encounter led to the two becoming partner poets at the 2014 SIWF. Akiko Fujiwara appraised Lee Jenny as 
a poet who wrote “poetry that approached the subject thoughtfully and had the ‘sensitivity of a minor key.’ ” Lee Jenny appraised 
Akiko Fujiwara as a poet who was “experimental and unconventional, but strong.” The session came to a close with Akiko Fujiwara’s answer to an audience member’s question: “No matter how small one’s voice, I believe it is important to express oneself and be heard. Only a small number of people might agree with you, but it is important to have the willingness to express one’s opinion directly and to communicate it to others. Only then can we create a society where loud voices don’t hold sway, but rather where the small and diverse voices of the minority coexist. My reason for writing poetry probably lies here.”








Free Talk Session 3: Novelists Hae Yisoo and Lucy Fricke (Germany) / Moderator: Park Jin


The two novelists confessed that despite becoming friends while attending the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa two 
years ago and even regularly attending parties together, neither of them had read the other’s work or even talked about it. They both 
agreed that they had begun exploring each other’s literary world after participating at the SWIF. While speaking on the theme of 
“Eros and Dream,” Hae Yisoo referred to the “balloon effect.” He said that just like how a balloon protrudes when you squeeze it because 
the air inside it is displaced, the constraints of reality lead to more vigorous expressions of dreams and Eros. The moderator inquired 
mischievously whether Hae Yisoo was satisfying erotic desires that were unfilled in real life through his work.
Hae Yisoo and Lucy Fricke’s works shared a common feature in that both their stories were based on actual experiences. A journey to the 
Gobi desert became the motif for a story for the former, while for the latter it was an anecdote about her mother’s boyfriend (who almost 
became her step-dad). The writers shared an interesting conversation about where fact, fiction and imagination meet in literature.



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