Sijo Poetry – Writing Contest

By , November 18, 2020

On the tails of a successful grant program that helps Wisconsin libraries augment their offerings with East Asian materials and programming, the Center for East Asian Studies announces a new outlet to express creativity with Korean flair. On Nov. 17, the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Center for East Asian Studies (CEAS) launched Wisconsin’s first-ever sijo poem writing competition.

Sijo is a traditional Korean three-line poetic form consisting of a theme (1st line), elaboration (2nd line), and a counter-theme and conclusion (3rd line). Sijo traditionally explores cosmological, metaphysical, or pastoral themes and consists of 14-16 syllables per line:

Song of My Five Friends by Yun Seondo (1587-1671)

You ask how many friends I have? Water and stone, bamboo and pine
The moon rising over the eastern hill is a joyful comrade.
Besides these five companions, what other pleasure should I ask?

“Sijo is a great entry point for exploring traditional Korean culture. It is also an interesting lens through which to view your own culture,” said CEAS associate director David Fields. Fields has committed to writing a new Wisconsin-themed sijo every week from now until the close of the competition:

The Two Masters by David Fields

Brett Favre, the gun slinger, restored Title Town to past glory.

Raw emotion, force, and instinct bringing victories and defeats.

His record who can equal? Aaron Rodgers, the cerebral.

The Wisconsin Sijo Competition is open to Wisconsinites of all ages, offers monetary prizes of up to $400 to winning entries, and includes inducements for schools and libraries to promote participation in the competition. For details on how to enter as well as on how to write sijo, please visit the Wisconsin Sijo Competition page. The deadline for entry is 18 January 2021.

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