The Poet
by Do-hyeon Ahn
(translated from the Korean by Ian Haight and Ji-young Lee)  

Inside a tree
is a boiler (hot water):
even in winter, the body of the tree’s stomach
growls, prowling.

When what feeds my body
fills with water (poetry)
it may explode, as the blossom
of an apricot, fickle for play
in spring. A man from the boiler factory
may put his ear to the apricot tree, wanting
to hear the prowling growl—
there, his body nuzzles.

by Do-hyeon Ahn
(translated from the Korean by Ian Haight and Ji-young Lee)

When sleet stopped falling
among the pine trees, I was alone, mumbling, and saw
a mountain road.

To remember the way to return, I walked, leaving
precise prints in the snow; to avoid the road’s twists,
I stooped, bending my back crooked.

I believed I could climb the mountain using any method.

I heard the crackling sounds of the mountain, bored, flexing its fingers.
Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 7, Number 1
(Spring 2012)

Copyright © 2012
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.
The Scenery

by Do-hyeon Ahn
(translated from the Korean by Ian Haight and Ji-young Lee)

So splendid—the zelkovas raise their pale green colors.

The trees incessantly push the pale green to a mountain ridge.

The stiff, tough tendons of a forearm try to pass the colors while other such tendons try to
           receive them; I see it all.

There is no meaning here as to what remains and what will be taken.

I love to see the trees ladle their colors into the reservoir water.

by Do-hyeon Ahn
(translated from the Korean by Ian Haight and Ji-young Lee)

The other day I went to Pohang because my books Salmon
and The Relationship had been published in braille at the Gyungbuk Braille Library.  
I was grateful.  In the hall, during the commemoration for the disabled,
wavering, I gave a lecture in front of the blind (not because I know something).  
While talking about the poetic life, I began to sweat.  I could not say that the poetic life
comes from knowing the difference between the aster and the chrysanthemum,
neither could I say anything about a child’s perspective—
a child who always uses a sky-blue crayon to color the sky.  
This is because over one hundred Buddhas sat perfectly in silence.  Surely
they did not wish to make the guest lecturer sweaty, scared, or, consequently, embarrassed,
so earlier they had simply closed their eyes.  This made me more embarrassed.  I quickly
concluded the lecture and stepped down from the podium; applause
pummeled my ears.  I felt far away.  Suddenly it was as if I were walking into
Woonjoo Temple in Jeolla Do.  The first time I visited Woonjoo
I stood in front of the eyeless statue of the Buddha.  
I thought about how this gentleman plucked out his two eyes
with his fingers and of his own free will threw them out into the world.  Because of this,
the people of the world could finally open their eyes.  And yet, on the express bus coming back
from Pohang, I saw myself nimbly and smartly open the envelope
with the lecture fee.  I felt hot.  I opened my eyes wide,
confirming that it held three hundred thousand won.  I regretted
having spent the day agonizing over whether to donate the money
to charity or not.  As if nothing were the matter, I kept the money.  Truly,
I was so far away from the poetic life.  I am still far away.



Born in 1961 in Yecheon, North Gyoengsang Province,
Do-hyeon Ahn began
his poetic career by being selected for the 1981 Spring Literary Award offered by
Daegu Maeil Newspaper, and the 1984 Spring Literary Award offered by the
Donga Daily.  He published his first collection of poems, Chon Pong-jun, On His
Way to Seoul
, in 1985, and followed that with Bonfire, I Want to Go to You and
Beloved Fox, among others.  Ahn has also published two popular books in prose,
Salmon and Relationships.  Do-hyeon Ahn received the first Korean Prize for
Young Poets in 1996 and the thirteenth Sowol Poetry Award in 1999.

Ji-young Lee was a co-translator for the United Nations’ Dialogue on Poetry
series in 2004 and 2005. Currently she works in the International Cooperation
Division of the Seoul Metropolitan Government helping to foster international
relations with cities around the world.

Ian Haight has been awarded translation grants from the Daesan Foundation,
Korea Literary Translation Institute, and the Baroboin Buddhist Foundation.  He
is the co-translator of
Borderland Roads: Selected Poems of Kyun Hŏ (2009),
Magnolia and Lotus: Selected Poems of Hyesim (2013), and editor of Zen
Questions and Answers from Korea
(2010), all from White Pine Press.  Poems,
essays, and translations appear in
Barrow Street, Writer’s Chronicle, and New
Orleans Review
.  For more information, please visit

On “The Poet,” “The Scenery,” “Moving Day for Pale Green Colors,” and “The
Poetic Life”:
I often imagine that reading and writing poetry is like going on a date with
the world.  When in love, you’re sensitive even to the sound of falling leaves;
you imagine every relationship around you complexly interwoven with the
relationship you have between you and your loved one.  In this way, one strives
to observe and imagine the finest way to love.

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Moving Day for
Pale Green Colors
The Poetic Life