Sijo (Korean Poetry)

"It seems to be the nature of mankind continually to try something new. That is
just as true in poetry as it is in other areas. During the past forty years
or so we have shown increasing interest in Asian verse patterns. The Middle
Eastern ghazal has its devoted followers in the West, and Japanese forms like
haiku, tanka, renga and haibun are now commonly found in small press and
commercial poetry periodicals. Journey through the Internet and you will see
these forms blossoming everywhere. We Westerners have fallen in love with
Asian patterns, patterns that connect us tenuously with ancient cultures so
different from our own.

So it is with the S I J O (see-szo or she-szo, with the J pronounced as the
French pronounce Jacques). The roots of this lyrical Korean cousin of haiku
and tanka stretch back well over 1000 years. It has been the most popular
form of lyric verse in Korea for over 500 years, sung equally by Confucian
scholars, members of the royal court and common folk . . .

. . . .Remember the three characteristics that make the sijo unique -- its basic
structure, musical/rhythmic elements, and the twist. It is shorter and more
lyrical than the ghazal. It is more roomy than the haiku, and it welcomes
feelings and emotions which haiku either discourage or disguise. It should
please lovers of ballads, sonnets and lyrics, and the downplay of regular
meter and rhyme should appeal to writers of free verse. In short, it's a
fascinating challenge. Let us see your latest one."

~ Larry Gross, copy from his article on Sijo Primer #1



Still America

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."

They say go, return to land that I don't know. It makes no sense.
Born and raised American, so Mexico is still foreign
Cuture kept, but this is my home. Immigrant, no: Hispanic.

by Creasy Clauser (Crawfordsville, IN)
12th grade, Southmont High School
2009 Sijo Writing Competition winning entry
by Roberto Santos (Laredo, TX)
12th grade, John B. Alexander High School
2013 Sijo Writing Competition winning entry






Sijo Resources - Website Links:

Sijo Primer # 1
An introduction for those new to sijo, a refresher for others.
by Larry Gross
About Sijo by Elizabeth St Jacques (revised , March 2001)
How to Write Linked Sijo and Sijo Sequences by Elizabeth st Jacques (revised March 2001)
The Structure of The Korean Sijo - Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, Vol. 36. pp114-134 (1976) by David R. McCann
A Basic Guide to Writing Sijo - by Sejong Cultural Society
Korean Sijo Poem by Victor P. Gendrano
  Mini video lectures on sijo for beginners by Prof. David McCann
1. Form of sijo (9 min)
2. History of sijo (5 min)
3. Sample sijo analysys - "Chung San Lee..청산리 벽계수야..."(13 min)
Sijo Samples - Sejong Cultural Society
Sijo Writing Competition Winners (Pre-college students in USA) 
2011  | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 |
Yahoo Groups SIJO FORUM moderated by Larry Gross
Modern Korean Verse: In Sijo Form - Review by Elizabeth St. Jacques
KBS2TV Broadcast - "Live Today" "(생방송 오늘)" (on Sijo poetry events in USA - covering the English Sijo writing workshop for English teachers at UIC and Sijo lecture at the Chicago Public Library (April 9-10, 2010, Chicago) - (narration in Korean, interview in English) The video clip is also available on YouTube.
Listen to David McCann - David McCann explains and sings sijo - Boston Globe Interview (6/30/2009)

At Harvard University, professor David McCann and his students discuss the sijo, a traditional Korean poetic form, and read their sijo poems. Links to www.poetry.harvard.edu website.

Writing Asian Poetry: Part 1 - Introduction & the Concept of the “Twist” in Sijo Poems  - Video Clip Duration: 14:25

Writing Asian Poetry: Part 2 - Students Read Sijo Poems (Round I) - Video Clip Duration: 10:30

Writing Asian Poetry: Part 3 - Students Read Sijo Poems (Round II) & Conclusion - Video Clip Duration: 08:40

Sijo Writing competition for pre-college students in USA by Sejong Cultural Society
Application deadline January 31st, 2013 (8th Sejong Writing Competition)
Resources for teachers including a lesson plan - Teaching Sijo (to prepare students for the competition).
  Poetry Foundation Lecture Series - "Sijo Poetry"
Thursday, November 15, 7:00PM
at Poetry Foundation, 61 West Superior Street, Chicago, IL
Detail Info at Poetry Foundation website - Poetry off the Shelf: Sijo Poetry

"Though less familiar than its Japanese cousin, haiku, Korean sijo has a similarly rich heritage. Like haiku, it employs three lines, although its 40-some syllables are more flexible and allow for narrative..." Lecture by David McCann, (Professor, Harvard University)
Co-sponsored by Sejong Cultural Society and the Harvard Club of Chicago
English Sijo writing workshop for English teachers - Speaker: David McCann (professor, Harvard University), Presented by UIC English Department & Sejong Cultural Society  (11/17/2012, at UIC Chicago)
Enchanted evening of Sijo, Arts and Wine: sijo reading by David McCann, Won Jung Park and geomungo performance by Yang sun woo - at Andrew Bae Gallery, Chicago  11/17/2012 6pm-8pm
  Sijo Teaching Resources developed by Sejong Cultural Society
(Powerpoint file, video files, teaching plan, etc... for teachers)
Resources for teachers including a teaching guides at Sejong Cultural Society website
Website: Poetry in TheWORLDShop by Larry Gross (includes a section on "Asian-inspired Patterns")
  Past Events - News release on the April 2010 Sijo Events in Chicago - In English - PDF (In English - MS Word file) , In Korean,
  Rebirth of Sijo in Korea - a new movement to teach Sijo writing to children in Korea
(Child Sijo - 어린이 시조나라, in Korean)



Website by Sejong Cultural Society