Ko Un/Sylvia Plath – Poetry News Roundup July 27th

Once again, we have reached the end of the week. Today we look at articles about the Ko Un, the poet from South Korea, and the Australasian premiere of a stage play about Sylvia Plath.

South Korean Poet Fights Back

Ko Un the poet from South Korea who was accused of actioning sexual harassment earlier this year – an accusation that had implications for the poet, who had his texts removed from school books and was at risk of losing his government-funded house – is fighting back at his accuser.

The 84-year-old has filed a suit for defamation again the poet who accused him. The suit is seeking damages in the region on W1.07 (that is $893,000) for the accusations that were made by the poet Choi Young-mi.

Whilst it is acknowledged that Choi didn’t in fact name Ko Un directly, the contents of her poem “The Beast” which was published at the end of last year described the predatory habits of an unnamed but very famous poet in Korea. She later had a TV appearance and revealed that the poet in the poem was based on the poet Ko Un. Other people then came forward and appeared to corroborate her accusations.

Ko Un initially fought back against the claims and issued a statement in March via his publisher in the UK. He stated,
Little had been heard on the subject since the statement in March but now it would appear that the poet is going to fight back about the rumours that now surround his name.

Sylvia Plath Play Premiere

13 years ago, the city of Dunedin hosted the filming of a movie portraying the life of the poet Sylvia Plath.Now the Australasian premiere of a play that is based on Plath’s poetry will also be hosted there. The movie, which stared Gwyneth Paltrow focused on the life of the poet, the play will concentrate on her poetry.

Plath’s style of “confessional” poetry lends itself well to helping to tell the story of the play which was written by Barry Kyle for the National Theatre which is in the UK.

The decision to premier the play in New Zealand was made because Plath is relatively unknown there and it is hoped that it will get more people interested in her poetry.

The story of Sylvia Plath is certainly a turbulent one, she was born to a German college professor and one of his students. Her father died when she was only 8 years old, but before that they had had a rather troubled relationship.

She married fellow poet Ted Hughesin 1956, whilst already suffering the symptoms of severe depression. The couple were happy for a while and had children together, but the marriage broke up and Plath eventually committed suicide.

The director of the play stated that whilst it requires plenty of concentration to watch the message and the poetry should really carry the audience and hopefully ignite a love for Plath’s poetry.

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