2022 Sejong International Sijo Competition Winner

I’m ecstatic to share that my poem, Grandmother’s Hair, is the winning entry of the 2022 Sejong International Sijo Competition, hosted by The Sejong Cultural Society. Keep reading to be treated to this poem, which reaches across boundaries of borders and time.

About Sijo Poetry & The Sejong Cultural Society

The mission of The Sejong Cultural Society is “to advance awareness and understanding of Korea’s cultural heritage amongst people in the United States by reaching out to the younger generations through contemporary creative and fine arts.”

As described by SCS, “the sijo is a traditional three-line Korean poetic form organized technically and thematically by line and syllable count.” The society’s “sijo competition brings the sijo, a classic example of traditional Korean fine arts, to a modern English-speaking audience as a unique form of poetry.” More information on this poetry form is available at their website, https://sejongculturalsociety.org.

The Winning Sijo: Grandmother’s Hair

Writing Craft

SCS asked me for a few words regarding my entry. This is what I shared regarding my experience with Korean culture, poetry, and the sijo I wrote:

I am a lover of language– written, spoken, and sung, which led me to study linguistics and foreign languages in college. My curiosity led me to study Korean culture and hangeul on my own, after which I discovered the art of sijo from the Sejong Cultural Society. The poetry form of sijo felt both freeing and limiting to me, in that I challenged myself to shape something beautiful and powerful with the succinct use of the most impactful words.

It is sometimes that which cannot be expressed with words that eludes us the most, which we attempt to express through other love languages– the sharing of food, an act of kindness, a warm embrace. In my sijo, GRANDMOTHER’S HAIR, I recall how there is an infinite history passed down to me by those loved ones who are no longer here, and how little of it was actually verbalized when they were still around.

There is so much that I would ask my ancestors if I could, yet all their words are still here, written in my own flesh, and in yours, too, dear reader. I encourage you to share your own stories with your loved ones, whether through pages and pages of sijo or around the dinner table.

Many thanks to The Sejong Cultural Society for hosting this competition and inspiring me and so many others to express ourselves through the enduring art of sijo. To read additional honorable mentions from this year’s sijo competition, please visit here.

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