Hyejung Kook’s poetry has most recently appeared or is forthcoming in The Massachusetts Review, The Ellis Review, Pleiades, The Indianapolis Review, Prairie Schooner, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal. Hyejung was born in Seoul, Korea, grew up in Pennsylvania, and now lives in Kansas with her husband and their two young children. She is a Fulbright grantee and a Kundiman fellow.
Hyejung Kook’s poem, “Cheongomabi / 천고마비,” — whose title is a Korean idiom of autumnal celebration that the poem beautifully translates to “the sky is high, the horses are sleek with autumn fat” — is an intricate study of the rich, unshakable hope that arrives after hopelessness. The poem begins with a meditation on the color of ripening jujubes, which leaps into an unexpected, haunting yet gorgeous memory, then pauses with powerful syntactical command to confess a time the speaker lost hope.