Gathering sounds from each provincial
Nook and hilly village, the scholars
Discerned differences between
Long and short vowels, which phonemes,
Mumbled or dipthonged, would become
Brethren, linguistically speaking.
Speaking of taxonomy,
I’ve been busy categorizing what’s
Joseon, what’s American about each
Choice of diction or hill I might die on.
Killing my accent was only ever half the
Task, is what I mean. Q: When grief
Pushes its wet moons from me, is the sound
Historically accurate? or just a bit of feedback?
Copyright © 2020 by Franny Choi. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 20, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
“This poem is part of a series that takes the abecedarian form (in which each line begins with another letter of the alphabet) and adapts it to Hangul, the Korean alphabet. As a child in weekend Korean school, I learned about how Hangul was developed by King Sejong in the 15th Century—but it wasn't until recently that I started to think about what might have been lost in that process of standardization. This poem, like many in the series, is an attempt to approach and learn from the gulfs between languages.”
Franny Choi is the author of three poetry collections, The World Keeps Ending, and the World Goes On (Ecco/HarperCollins, 2022) ; Soft Science (Alice James Books, 2019); and Floating, Brilliant, Gone (Write Bloody, 2014). She is a Kundiman Fellow, and lives in Hamtramck, Michigan
Date Published: 2020-05-20
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/hangul-abecedarian