Publication Date: November, 2017
Publisher: Unicorn Press
Winner of the First Book Prize in Poetry from Unicorn Press
Globalization, class marginalization, expatriate life, spiritual practice—the privileges and perils of each are among the themes explored.
"Ian Haight writes wisdom-in-verse. He understands the mise en abyme of the abyss within the abyss within the mind, and he knows how to make meaning of it all. The poems of Celadon move fluidly from the spiritual to the commonplace to the vulgar. We encounter blue-collar workers and Korean Buddhist proverbs, Aristophanes and military pilots, Isaac Asimov and an assortment of human failures. In Haight’s deft poetry, these marvelously varied elements form a coherent and utterly human whole. This volume marks the emergence of a new and remarkable talent.”
Author of The Cartographer's Ink
“Ian Haight’s Celadon has a distinctive intimacy and yet his poems often extend out beyond personal concerns to address larger cultural issues. Celadon mixes poems about the Midwest of the United States with poems about Korea and other parts of Asia. The large amount of geographical territory that is covered in this collection is one of its great strengths. Ian’s work in these poems shows an attentive kindness, and the poems do not risk appropriation or indulge in privileged guilt. I respect his skillful work with craft and willingness to write for the ethics of a poem…one of the writers to watch.”
Author of That Winter the Wolf Came
“With Celadon, Ian Haight has created a manuscript of impressive tonal and thematic range. Here are hard-edged social observation; neo-imagist restraint; and flashes of delight in surreal excess enlivened with sardonic humor. Among Ian’s foremost strengths are his powers of observation—whether of everyday life and language in the American heartland or the quirks of Korean neighbors—and his use of juxtaposition: the Buddha figure from a roadside meditates near the TV; the militarized romanticism of Japanese soldiers from WWII resonates with the flat diction of an American bomber pilot. These
tensions are beautifully synthesized to insist on the importance of honoring what links the living and the dead, and bravely allow his unique angle of vision to sharpen our sense of what matters most about being human.”
Author of Apples and Oranges
Publication Date: June, 2013
Publisher: White Pine Press
Magnolia & Lotus: Selected Poems of Hyesim
Runner up for the American Literary Translators Association's Lucien Stryk Prize and listed as a Notable Book in Translation by World Literature Today
A collection of poems by the 12th century Sŏn (Zen) Master Hyesim, sequenced to suggest his life as a follower of Buddhism, from his early days, progress, and experiences with meditation; to the middle years as leader of Korea's largest Buddhist sect—the Chogye Order; to the final years of his life.
"Korea's first Zen Master-poet wrote simple yet elegant poetry of the world he inhabited, both physically and spiritually, and of daily insights—a pause along the way for a deep clear breath, a moon-viewing moment, a seasonal note or a farewell poem to a departing monk. His poems speak softly and clearly, like hearing a temple bell that was struck a thousand years ago."
Author of Habitation
"Hyesim's poems: transformative as walking high granite mountains by moonlight, with fragrant herbs underfoot and a thermos of clear tea in the backpack. Their bedrock is thusness, their images' beauty is pellucid and new their view without limit. The shelf of essential Zen poets for American readers grows larger with this immediately indispensable collection."
Author of The Beauty
"Reading poems from another language, culture, and century, I often feel like a foreigner excluded from the original's subtleties. Not so in Hyesim's miraculous time-traveling poems, which might have been written yesterday or tomorrow, and anywhere. There's not a single opaque word in the book. The poems are Buddhist, yes, and Zen (Sŏn) in particular, but they're written for anyone interested in human consciousness: what it is, how it perceives the world, how it can be transformed, and what pure perceptual clarity and joy result from the realization of its ultimate transparency. Through eight hundred years Hyesim's voice delivers the gift of his wisdom, modesty, humor, and profound understanding of the human mind. These are important poems."
Author of Horses Where the Answers Should Have Been
Publication Date: December, 2009
Publisher: White Pine Press
Borderland Roads: The Selected Poems of Hŏ Kyun
Finalist for the Grand Prix Prize in Translation
Borderland Roads captures the Japanese invasions of Korea in 1592 and 1597 as personally experienced by Hŏ Kyun—the only record of its kind for these events; his progressive, reform minded observations of class difference; and the everyday life of a nobleman in 17th century, post-war Korea.
"Hŏ Kyun's poetry is in the tradition of his master, the incomparable Tu Fu, while remaining fully his own. Writing nine centuries later, Hŏ's poetry strikes many parallels—the experiences of war and exile and constant struggle—and his voice is similarly humane. This is rich and enlightening reading."
"Although written four hundred years ago, the profound and spontaneous humanity of these poems will delight readers of any century. At their heart are the twin shadows of war and exile, but they are also a marvelous travelogue and time-lapse revelation of one man's personal joys and griefs. By turns feisty, tender, ironic, spiritual, and openly emotional, the collection gives us a vivid portrait of a man living through an era of political violence and the disruption and chaos it caused. In reading Hŏ Kyun, I felt the thrill of discovering lost treasure. This is an important poet, and an important book. His words leave me with the eerie sense of a ghost surviving to speak truth that's particularly relevant in our own chaotic era of corruption and war. Hŏ Kyun will live on my shelves next to the poet he most loved and emulated: Tu Fu."
Publication Date: August, 2010
Publisher: White Pine Press
Garden Chrysanthemums and First Mountain Snow: Zen Questions and Answers from Korea
Korean Buddhist questions and answers in the spirit of kongans (koans), with emphasis on responses by Sŏn (Zen) Master Taewŏn.
"While reading this book of questions and answers, I stopped long enough to eat an apple and noticed that the seeds hidden inside were not really hidden. And I wondered, are the enigmatic answers of these Korean Zen Masters not also present in these rosy red questions? The only way to find out is to eat the apple. But if you do, why not spit out the seeds and plant your own tree?"
—Bill Porter/Red Pine
Author of The Lankavatara Sutra: Translation and Commentary
"Garden Chrysanthemums and First Mountain Snow is a delightful book that gives us the feel of the vital lively language of Zen in the Korean tradition. The reader is offered a bird's eye view of Zen dialogue, sometimes referred to as Dharma combat. Included are vivid exchanges between Teacher and student as well as between various modern Korean Zen Masters. A welcome addition to the growing body of literature on the Korean Zen Tradition."
—Richard Shrobe (Wu Kwang)
Author of Elegant Failure: A Guide to Zen Koans and Don't Know Mind: The Spirit of Korean Zen